This Old Man – Viking Theatre – Review by L.A. Whelan
by Gerard Lee
Viking Theatre@The Sheds July 5th- 23rd
Last night, I paid my first visit to the Viking Theatre over The Sheds pub in Clontarf. This intimate theatre was hosting the premiere of Gerard Lee’s most recent comedy “This Old Man”. The play is a bitter sweet comedy about families and simmering sibling rivalry as two middle aged sisters, Carol and Denise, argue about the future care of their ailing father Eamonn.
Eamonn, like most men of his age, is happy to be left to his own devices, sinking a few pints in the local, if one of his daughters will drop and collect him, watching Countdown in the middle of the day, living off chocolate biscuits and firing the dinner lovingly delivered by his care staff over the neighbour’s wall, almost killing their sensitive stomached pooch. Denise, a nurse by profession, is willing to put enough safeguards in place to enable the old man to stay in his home. But Carol, a tenacious business woman, is determined to get the old man into a nursing home and sell his home from under him. The decision that needs to be made between the sisters opens up the old wounds of sibling rivalry and soon their relationship begins to disintegrate.
Eamonn was played by John Olohan, a past recipient of the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor and he was delightfully humorous in the role. Carol, the elder sister was played by Deidre Monaghan, known for her extensive TV work for both RTE and BBC. Denise was played by Paula-Greevy Lee, who brought great pathos to her role. The play was produced by Greevy -Lee’s theatre company Cadence Theatre Company, which was established in 2015 to produce innovative and contemporary new Irish writing.
The intimate setting of The Viking was perfect for this play as we, the audience, were invited into this family to see one of the hardest decisions families face. The stage itself is very limited in space, so the set design was designed to merely give an impression of the surroundings: a bed, table and a couple of chairs. Ann Russell, who recently tread the boards at the Viking in Risk Everything, directs the play. Having gone to the theatre with little knowledge of the play, I was pleasantly surprised and the audience were enthralled by the performance. It is a gentle comedy that is probably going to strike a chord with most audience members of a certain age. It certainly did with me. Gerard Lee’s next play, Perfect Shadows is based on the life of Christopher Marlowe and I’ll be looking out for it. It’s sure to pack a punch.