It’s the night of the Northern Ireland versus Poland match in the qualifiers for the 2010 world cup. There has already been some trouble in the centre of Belfast. A pub in the centre of town has been smashed up where supporters on both sides clashed. Robert is a bar man in a quiet pub on the outskirts of town, a Polish man and proud of it. When his regular Jimmy arrives, he assumes it is to watch the match, as he has done many times before. This is not an average night however, as Jimmy explains to Robert, a man will arrive shortly, and there may be some trouble. This is a night where part of Jimmy’s past will come back to haunt him, and he will relive the hardest of memories.
The set is a recreation of a small bar room, complete with tables, bar, taps and all you would expect. There’s also the entrance and a single window. It’s a simple and impressive set, and shares the same location as many plays set in Ireland, the bar room is almost a constant on our stages.
This is a play based around the troubles in Northern Ireland and the damage it caused to the individuals who lived through the era. We get to hear a tale from both sides of the equation and see how choices were not always as simple as they may seem. This is a deeply affecting tale that is all too real.
The two key roles in the piece are Declan Conlon as Ian and Patrick O’Kane as Jimmy. Conlon is impressive and quite restrained, but it is O’Kane that has the commanding part and his ferocity on stage is something to marvel at. He exudes a raw emotion and violence, which is understandable given the position he finds himself in.
This is a reprisal of the original play which ran in the Peacock theatre in 2012, and has lost none of its impact. It’s not the easiest night at the theatre, but is a new work with something to say. It received much acclaim on its first run, so don’t miss this opportunity to see catch it second time around.
Abbey Theatre on Tour – 11 March – 16 April
Declan Conlon – Ian
Patrick O’Kane – Jimmy
Robert Zawadzki – Robert
Jimmy Fay – Director
Owen McCafferty – Writer
Alyson Cummins – Set design
Catherine Fay – Costume design
Sinéad McKenna – Lighting design
Philip Stewart – Sound design
Neil O’Driscoll – AV design
Donal O’ Farrell – Fight Director