QUIETLY by Owen McCafferty.
Peacock Theatre, 26 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1. (Beneath Abbey Theatre). To 15 December. 8:00pm. Saturday matinee 2:30pm. Sign language interpreted performance 6 December.
Runs 75 mins. No Interval. Tickets: 00 3531 8787 222 www.abbeytheatre.ie
Review: Michael Paye 25 11 2012.
McCafferty’s Abbey debut is a must see.
Just ten years after the Good Friday Agreement, which officially recognised the right of unionists, republicans, and everyone simply caught in the middle of conflict to pursue political and personal objectives in peace, two men meet in an unassuming bar, which, much like the rest of Northern Ireland, has a lot of history that on the surface can be concealed. Owen McCafferty’s QUIETLY takes these wounds and shines a spotlight on them, as Jimmy and Ian, two men with a painful, related history, meet for some sense of closure and understanding.
Alyson Cummins realist setting fits the Peacock stage beautifully. A small pub is the scene of the conflict. Robert, owner and bar tender (Robert Zawadzki), watches Poland playing Northern Ireland, while texting his partner, though it becomes clear that he has two women, an Irish wife and a Polish girlfriend. The mirrors behind the bar switch to a phone screen, often with an image of his partner or the context of the text message, which is a nice effect alongside the naturalistic set. Jimmy then enters the bar, played with extraordinary intensity by Patrick O’Kane, set to meet Ian (Declan Conlon), decades after he bombed the site of that very pub and killed his father.
There are some sections which lack the subtlety of the rest of Jimmy Fay’s nicely directed performance, which is replete with understated humour and emotional torment. When Ian walks in the door, he is immediately head-butted by Jimmy, which looks too staged. This is a naturalistic performance; the language, the setting, everything with the exception of the mirror/screen is real. The head but seems forced somehow. But the performances by the three men across the board are excellent.
Though ostensibly about the legacy, indeed, the legitimacy of peace in Northern Ireland, this piece echoes on many new themes in Irish society, north and south. A particularly nice touch is when, after hearing “fucking Orange/Fenian bastard” on several occasions from Jimmy and Ian, one of the final lines of the play is a resounding “fucking Polish bastard” aimed at Robert from the outside. Northern Ireland, even Ireland as a whole, has to get past such parochial divisions of “us” and “them” to move forward. North and South are very much in a continuing process of development.
Robert Zawadzki: Robert
Patrick O’Kane: Jimmy
Declan Conlon: Ian
Director: Jimmy Fay
Set Design: Alyson Cummins
Costume Design: Catherine Fay
Lighting Design: Sinead McKenna
Sound Design: Philip Stewart
AV Design: Neil O’Driscoll
Voice Director: Andrea Ainsworth