Can a play be a ‘minor classic’ in less than five years? In the case of ‘These Halcyon Days’ by Deirdre Kinahan, the answer is yes. A brilliantly executed and sensitive story, the play is about the relationship between two ‘Seniors’ in a Nursing Home, Sean (a retired Actor, confined to a wheelchair) and Patricia (formerly a School Principal). The friendship that develops, as Patricia draws Sean out if his shell, is charming and moving – this is a Play about longing and belonging.
The two actors, Anita Reeves and Stephen Brennan, were made for each other. Their stage relationship seems real. There are – cliché alert – laughter and tears, but above all, there’s sensitivity. The actors treat their own characters with respect and tenderness. There is a sense that they have real affection for their roles, their performances are just so good. When they dance, you can feel their happiness.
Character and conflict should be part of any good drama and Kinahan sets these up brilliantly, in just under 75 minutes too. Why is Sean in the Nursing Home? Who cares for him? What is his secret? (there is a nice twist which, while telegraphed, is well done and handled with great skill by both actors). What is Patricia’s story? Is Life a series of small or large regrets? Can we rage against the dying of the light? To paraphrase Rihanna, can we find love in a hopeless place? Is love all we need? Enough with the quotes; it asks all these questions and more. Kinahan treats the concept of infirmity and old age with compassion and empathy; we don’t like thinking about these things, but Patricia and Sean are characters who have lived and, accordingly, have more to say to an audience.
Landmark Productions can do no wrong these days (anyone who saw ‘The Talk of the Town’ at the 2012 Dublin Theatre Festival would have high praise for the quality of their productions) and ‘These Halcyon Days’ is a worthy companion piece for their stable. This is a moving evening at the Theatre and you will feel better for having seen it.
Halcyon Days runs from Tuesday 9th – Saturday 13th July @ 8pm, at the Civic Theatre.
Admission: €20 & €16, €10 on opening night (Tuesday, 9th July)