Brian Gleeson and Gary Lydon, photo by Drew Farell
Conor McPherson’s eerie meditation on troubled masculinity and hidden ghosts unravels like the tape of an old Irish ballad.
Almost in real time, three gobshites : Jack (Gary Lydon), Jim (Darragh Kelly) and Brendan (Brian Gleeson) sit in the stale lounge of Brendan’s bar, putting the world to rights.
These rural Irishmen and their regular routine are interrupted by a smug interloper, old friend Finbar (Frank McCusker) who has returned from a successful life in Dublin with Valerie (Lucianne McEvoy) a younger woman he is desperate to impress, despite being married.
As the men exchange local legends of fairies and ghosts, however, something is triggered in Valerie, who reveals her real tragic reason for relocating to the countryside. McEvoy is quietly devastating, holding her own with the men as she becomes the catalyst for opening them up to discussing their own thwarted dreams and desires.
All of the cast are excellent- equally at home with taciturn moments as verbose- particularly Lydon, whose tough exterior crumbles to show a more emotionally articulate side.
Also of note is Francis O’ Connor’s evocative design- chilly, somewhat askew and indicative of a place where time stands still and spirits resonate.
Above all, though, it is Amanda Gaughan’s sure direction which lets the lyrical cadences of McPherson’s language ring out, as creamy and satisfying as the auld Stout- good to the last drop.