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A CurtainUp London Review
In Josie Rourke's production, lighter than I remember Ian Rickson's was, she makes much of the comedy of the banter between the men. The ghost stories do not really chill but instead there is a melancholy, a feeling of loss in what Jack in particular has missed and the regrets that may well be in store for Brendan and Jim. Dervla Kirwan has a shrilly nervous laugh which is penetrating and uncomfortable to hear but reminds us that she is not the confident woman soaking up the male attention.
Tom Scutt's atmospheric bar is so quiet initially that you can hear the clock tick in the intimate Donmar space. The draught Guinness pump doesn't work and Valerie's request for white wine has barman Brendan rushing into the house to find a bottle and then pouring her wine half an inch off the rim of a half pint glass. Ardal O'Hanlan's beard meets Jim's terrible woolly jumper as he tells us about living with his mother and he takes an under confident back seat all evening.
On this occasion the play felt dominated by Cox's magnificent performance and so its impact wasn't in the now less than chilling story, that has brought Valerie to the country for a "peace and quiet overload" Jack warns her about, but in his own final tale of missed opportunities and waste. Peter McDonald's barman seems to be an observer and indeed doesn't have a ghost story of his own but there seems to be hope for him as he volunteers to drive Valerie (and Jack) home.
Conor McPherson's new play, The Night Alivewhich he directs himself and which stars Ciaran Hinds and Jim Norton will open at the Donmar in June this year.
Editor's Note: McPherson's play is also getting a revival in New York's much loved Irish Rep Theater. Curtainup's Simon Saltzman will be re-visiting it there.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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