Review: Quietly at the Lyric Theatre

20140409-124159.jpgThe Abbey Theatre Company
presents
Quietly
by Owen McCafferty
at the Lyric Theatre Belfast
8th April – 13 April 2014

Winner Best Play – The Writers’ Guild Awards 2013
Winner Fringe First Award – Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013
Winner Best Actor for Patrick O’Kane – Stage Awards for Acting Excellence 2013

On the night Martin McGuinness dined with Queen Elizabeth 11 at Windsor Castle, people are asking is it time to move on, can we move on, should we move on? On the same night Owen McCafferty’s play ‘Quietly’ opened at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Two men meet in a bar by arrangement, they are two sides of a coin, they are heads and harps, one Catholic the other Protestant and the question is, can they move from their bitter, personal feud? The only other person privy to their conversation is the barman and he’s Polish.

The purpose of their meeting is to talk about the past, a time when they were both 16 years of age. Ian the Protestant boy, played by Declan Conlon and the other, Jimmy, powerfully played by Patrick O’Kane, whose father was murdered by young Ian who’d been tasked by a UVF gang to throw a bomb into the self same public house.

During their tense and brooding meeting each tells his story, the hurt and frustration that has festered for 36 years. Will they shake hands once they have vented their hatred of each other and of the society that twisted their violent young lives?

The author grew up on Belfast’s Ormeau Road so he knows what he’s writing about, in a mix of research and personal experience he’s produced a very powerful one act play. On Tuesday night we the audience were leaning forward on our seats as we were drawn into the horror of the story, a head butt brings a gasp, little touches like the street noise when the door of the bar is opened and proper pumps dispensing what looked like real ale.

The language is pure Belfast and strong to put it mildly. As on the day Jimmy’s father and five of his friends died in the bombing, the television set is on. Jackie Fullerton is commentating on a Northern Ireland v Poland football game and initially Jimmy and Robert, the barman played by Robert Zawadzki, are looking out into the audience where the television is apparently set but they were not looking to the same point which was a bit distracting.

The writing, the acting, the staging are all excellent but the direction by Jimmy Fay is worthy of mention as the pace of this piece of theatre is very sensitive, not rushed and keeps the audience on the edge of their seats.

Review by ANNE HAILES

Check all Anne Hailes Belfast Times reviews here.

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Post Author: Belfast Times

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