Stratford East (venue)
28 September 2021 (released)
29 September 2021
At a time, when we as a nation have had masses of time to analyse our lives in the wake of the Pandemic, it is an interesting choice, reviving this play that first was performed at the Royal Court in 2004. Then its theme would have been provocative, now it's much more reflective. In 2021 we are more exposed to stories of men opening up and revealing their guilt and their frustrations with life. So, instead of shocking, the play now highlights the absurdity of some of its situations, allowing the lighter moments more comic potential.
Described as a 'Dublin ghost story' it is not your usual tale. Here the ghosts are held within the minds of its two main characters. One believing through his own guilt to be visited by his dead wife. The other, has ghosts of his past life that are coming to the fore.
It is wonderful to hear the tell-tale Conor McPherson dialogue, with its in-depth monologues delving into the whole psyche of his male characters. He has a way of using swearing and unfinished sentences to huge effect. Brendan Coyle as John , the man who seeks therapy after the tragic loss of his wife, totally delivers. His performance is a perfect embodiment of a man desperately riddled with guilt and unable to face his future. He totally captures the attention throughout some very long confessional monologues, completely drawing the audience in. Rory Keenan as Ian, his newly qualified therapist, brings a stillness and internal complexity to his role. He provides the perfect contrast of an ex-priest coming to terms with his sexuality, and his own life struggles. Michelle Fox as his bemused and frustrated partner Neasa, and Curtis Lee Ashqar as his pick-up are the perfect antagonists to Ian's inner turmoil.
At 110 minutes with no interval , there are moments when the pace becomes so controlled and on one level, that it allows the mind to drift. The slowness of scene changes also breaks the tension. But, this is a revival that has wonderful performances. It comes at a time where we see guilt and ownership of actions being buried in everyday life, so, it is great that Nadia Fall's production provokes some personal exploration of guilt and fidelity, as well as a good old-fashioned scare at the end.