Lost Hearts – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review
by Frank L.
October 17 – November 05, 2022
Lost Hearts by M. R. James
Adapted for the stage by Michael James Ford and Stewart Roche
M. R. James was born in 1862 and although a medieval scholar he is best remembered for his ghost stories of which Lost Hearts is one. In the late 1970s, the BBC ran a series of television adaptations of his work, which introduced his short stories to a new generation. The particular story “Lost Hearts” was originally published in 1895.
The set consists of a cluttered Victorian parlour interior, festooned with drapes, with a velvet settee dominating the stage. It creates the right atmosphere.
Stephen Elliott (Kyle Hixon) is a young man who has sleeping difficulties. He goes to London to see Dr Olsen (Michael James Ford) in his rooms where Christine (Bairbre ni Caoimh) lets him in. After various pleasantries, Dr Olsen hypnotises him and he is transported to a house in the North of England owned by a Mr Abney (Michael James Ford) where Mrs Bunch (Bairbre ni Caoimh) is the housekeeper and general dogsbody. Stephen relives his dreams of childhood which have been disturbing him.
There are several changes in scenes during the play and Liam Halligan’s direction skillfully makes the transitions so the entire production moves stylishly. Each of the actors combines together to make the ambience unsettling and suitably spooky for a ghost story. The three actors make a fine ensemble and the occasional comic touches add to the pleasure of watching it.
This is a complex play to stage in a theatre as small as Bewleys Cafe Theatre but all the elements of acting, direction, design, lighting, costumes, and sound come together to produce a memorable lunchtime play. It is very much worth a visit particularly given the time of year.
Starring Kyle Hixon, Bairbre Ni Chaoimh and Michael James Ford
Directed by Liam Halligan