Halcyon Days – Viking Theatre – Review by Frank L.
Halcyon Days – Written by Deirdre Kinahan.
This is a new production of a play which only saw the light of day in 2012. It is an insight into the world of a retired actor Sean (Bryan Murray) and school teacher Patricia (Una Crawford) who find themselves incarcerated in a retirement home. Sean has had a more glamorous past but he is confined to a wheelchair and his memory is flaky. Often his answer to a question is an educated guess which is just short of the mark. He is in a passive mode until Patricia arrives and rekindles some new sparks into his life.
Patricia has views on many things including the poor manner in which the home is run with a particular detestation of the matron. She still has a fine degree of fight within her and is enthralled and impressed by Sean’s colourful acting past. Together, they bring a new vigour into each other’s lives but there are inevitable misunderstandings as the friendship becomes more complex.
The challenge for both actors is to create an individual who is past their prime. In some ways the challenge facing Murray is easier as Sean is confined to a wheelchair. Patricia is more complicated as she appears in better physical shape and is certainly sharper of tongue. Crawford straddles this conundrum most of the time and certainly expresses her inner sense of loneliness as she seeks to make a new friend in Sean.
The set is tight with a wheelchair, an easy chair and an uncomfortable looking bench outside in a garden with the whole ensemble evoking the world of a retirement home. The sense that this world is out of kilter is enhanced by three doors at different angles hanging on the back wall.
The play lasts an hour and fifteen minutes without an interval. The high degree of humour with which Kinahan invests the script ensures there are many smiles without taking away from the reality of the incumbents’ infirmities. This two hander is a little gem and one of Kinahan’s finest works. This new production does justice to her fine script and illuminates the many tender sadnesses of old age.