Not too long ago we at Droichead Youth Theatre were treated to Quietly by the Abbey Theatre in the Droichead Arts Centre, here’s this week’s guest writer, Jack Rogers, with a review!
Owen McCafferty’s new play Quietly was an interesting see with powerful performances by all the actors on stage. The story revolves around Jimmy and Ian, two middle aged Belfast men who are meeting in a pub for the first time. They have shared a dark past and need to talk about it.
From the onset I was apprehensive about this show giving the subject matter (The Troubles in the North) and I predicted it would be the same stories and horrors that I have read in my history book, however I decided not to judge this book by its cover. I walked into the theatre and was instantly struck by the wonderful set. It was a typical bar, but it somehow shocked me how life-like it was. However in between the time it took for me to take my seat and wait for the show to start, I noticed how clean the pub was, unlike any pub I’ve seen. I think it wouldn’t have hurt to maybe ruff up the bar slightly, and make it look like it was a bar. In the beginning we are introduced to our Polish bartender, Robert, and Jimmy, a middle aged man who has planned to meet someone in the bar. He lets on that the meeting won’t be a quiet one. The banter between the two is humorous but somehow tense, as the audience can tell that some of the things that Jimmy says is subtly relevant to the story, for example, his particular knowledge of a particular football match that his father had watched in that pub. Ian, who later on is said to be Jimmy’s age, walks in and the atmosphere immediately turns cold. After an awkward silence, Jimmy turns hostile toward Ian, and it’s clear that they both have history of some kind. The two exchange monologues and we find out that Ian had thrown a bomb into the very pub they sat in when he was sixteen. Jimmy’s father, along with five other men, were in it watching a football match that Jimmy had shown extensive knowledge in earlier. The monologues were very well performed, and honestly very emotional, however I couldn’t help but notice the bartender in between the long monologues and not once had he slipped out of character. This also gave me time to wonder how these two men were middle aged, despite looks. He may have been silent but that was a great thing to see. While Jimmy recited one of his monologues I thought of what I had read in my history book. The bombing and shooting. But even though it is tragic hearing a hundred people die without knowing anything other than that, I find it was worse hearing an individual story in great detail. That overall, was my favourite feeling I got from the play. But it was short lived… Something that annoyed me was that I was led to believe that Ian was the bad guy in this story. The impact of Jimmy’s monologue describing his father’s death was so touching, but I found it was ruined when Ian told of his misfortunes right after. It made me sympathise with him when I didn’t want to. However, this all rounded up to the final minutes of the show. I had hoped that there would be a dispute of some kind but the two walked up to each other and shook hands. Jimmy said that ‘they understood each other. I secretly didn’t want that, but probably just because it seemed like a happily ever after type of ending. But once I realised that both men will still have to live with the ghosts of their respective pasts, I under stood that it was appropriate (although that was not the absolute ending which I was glad for). As the barman closed up the pub he heard voices of teenagers outside that Jimmy referenced at the very beginning of the play, shouting “Fucking Polish bastard”. I thought this fit well as an ending as throughout the play, the phrase that they shouted had recurred throughout the play, only the middle word had been replaced with either “Fenian” or “Orange” in relation to what had been happening in the North. The repetition of this made the ending for me. I found that the end blinded me from what annoyed about the play. It was well performed, and don’t get me wrong there were some really great parts, it just wouldn’t be my favourite. But decide for yourself! Quietly is touring around Ireland. To find out what venues they will be showing at, go to http://www.abbeytheatre.ie
Thanks for Reading,