Jimmy (Patrick O’Kane) and Ian (Declan Conlon) last ‘crossed paths’ at 16 when they were on opposite sides of the Troubles (between unionist Protestants and nationalist Roman Catholics, or the IVF: Irish Volunteer Force). A single incident of terrorist violence mapped both emotional futures.
Robert Zawadzki, Patrick O’Kane
The men are now 52. Hardscrabble lives kept them in the same Belfast neighborhood, though out of one another’s sightlines. Jimmy has begrudgingly agreed to meet Ian in a local Belfast pub run by laconic Polish immigrant Robert (Robert Zawadzki). While waiting, he and the barman intermittently talk about the football i.e. soccer game on TV. Long periods of silence make the first part of the play pass like sludge. Jimmy tells Robert that someone will be joining him. “There might be a bit of shoutin’, nothin’ to get upset about.” He nonetheless appears to anxiously seethe.
Within minutes of Ian’s appearance, Jimmy headbutts him hard. Slowly they recall the past, Ian with reticence and regret, though interestingly no guilt; Jimmy with palpable, high volume fury. History molded each man differently. Despite a modicum of emotional exorcism, never the twain shall meet.
Owen McCafferty’s slight play addresses the ease with which disaffected youth is enlisted in terrorist organizations. And one of that commitment’s personal tolls. Tension is ably sustained between explosive outbursts, but Ian’s lack of communication leaves us with only one side of the story.
Acting is solid with caveats. I found gestures like Declan Conlon’s holding his elbow with his hand at his chin less than believable as wary agitation and Patrick O’Kane’s yelling somewhat one-note. The low key Robert Zawadzki is completely credible.
Alyson Cummins’ Set Design creates a realistic pub one might move intact and open.
Photos by James Higgins
Opening: Declan Conlon, Patrick O’Kane
Irish Repertory Theatre in Association with The Public Theater presents
The Abby Theatre
Quietly by Owen McCafferty
Part of the 2016 1st Irish Festival.
Directed by Jimmy Fay
Through September 11, 2016
The Irish Repertory Theatre
132 West 22nd Street