King's Head Theatre, London N1
Opened 4 June, 1992

Nobody's going to convince me that this elegant production, with its cast of 14, was conceived solely for the King's Head without a notion of transferring to a venue nearer the same author's Dancing At Lughnasa. It deserves as much.

Brian Friel's study of social and spiritual paralysis remains as affecting as when it was written three decades ago. Gar O'Donnell's last night before leaving for the New World is stifled by his family and friends' inability to break out of the ruts of outward banality and emotional repression, which reach their apogee in his monosyllabic father; while Public Gar observes the sterile rituals, his Private self, unheard by others, ribs and attacks those around him, refusing to allow Public to succumb to the pervading malaise.

The rapport between Jonathan Arun and Brendan Coyle as Public and Private is a joy to behold (the more so as Coyle refrains admirably from overplaying Private's acerbity), and the device never threatens the natural perspective of the work. It's a safe choice of play, but more than vindicated by the fine standard of Dan Crawford's production. Just in case I'm wrong about that transfer see it now.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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