Trad – Pavilion Theatre – Review
Trad – Written by Mark Doherty
We meet Thomas (Seamus O’Rourke) as he is waking his Da (Emmet Kirwan) from a deep sleep. Thomas has seen a ‘hundred summers’ so he is now an old man and his Da older again. Da starts to abuse his son about a number of petty complaints, the most grievous of which is not providing him with a grandson. That is when Thomas lets slip an indiscretion that took place nearly seventy years before. He reveals he may have a son he has never seen. This sets in motion a journey by the two men to try and find this long, lost son and heir.
This is a play written by Mark Doherty that was originally performed at the Galway International Arts Festival in 2004. The original production was directed by Mikel Murfi. It made quite an impression on Aaron Monaghan (director of this new production) so it should come as no real surprise that he chose to revive the work all these years later.
The play has the unusual feature of having musicians on stage, with a guitar and fiddle player at the back of the set, performing at regular intervals. This may be where the name of the play comes from and does add to the proceedings.
It was an unusual choice to have Emmet Kirwan play the older Da character. He’s known for his vibrant and energetic performances and this role restricts many of his finer abilities. He does have good comic timing and works relatively well in the part. Seamus O’Rourke plays Thomas as a lonely and downtrodden man, after many years fighting a losing battle against his Da. He exudes the deep melancholy of a man who has lived an empty life. Clare Barrett plays two roles in the production, an old woman called Sal and a Priest. Although she has limited stage time, she steals many scenes with her wit and charm.
The play inhabits a similar universe to Beckett, with the father and son seeming quite otherworldly, almost like ghosts drifting through a strange landscape. The biggest difference between this and Beckett’s work is the use of irreverent humour, with many sharp quips and some slapstick. The play had not been performed in fifteen years and was in danger of being forgotten, as the years passed since its initial production. This revival introduces the work to a new generation and shines a light on a work that is worthy of being seen. It’s a piece that asks more questions than it gives answers, but sometimes it’s good to keep an audience guessing.
05 & 06 APRIL 2019 / PAVILION THEATRE / DÚN LAOGHAIRE
11 – 13 APRIL 2019 / THE RAMOR THEATRE / VIRGINIA
23 & 24 APRIL 2019 / SOLSTICE ARTS CENTRE / NAVAN
25 – 27 APRIL 2019 / THE MICK LALLY THEATRE / GALWAY
30 APRIL – 11 MAY 2019 / ABBEY THEATRE PEACOCK STAGE / DUBLIN
21 – 24 MAY 2019 / EVERYMAN THEATRE / CORK