The Sand Park – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review
by Frank L
The Sand Park – Written and performed by Seamus O’Rourke
Uuntil April 22nd, 2023
The set consists of a stone wall with a garden bench in front of which is a small gravestone. It gives the impression of a quiet corner of a field rather than the formality of a graveyard. Lowry (Seamus O’Rourke) enters with a thermos flask of tea in his hand. He is about to have a quiet little chat with his son James Anthony who lies under the gravestone and to check on the fresh grave of his wife Rose who has recently died. The audience to an extent is eavesdropping on a conversation that Lowry is having with his deceased son and wife. It is a place where he can find calm as he reminisces and escapes the challenges of handling his teenage daughters.
His “little chat” also includes happy memories of James Antony as a football player, an unflattering depiction of a local women’s group and admiration and love for his recently deceased wife Rose. All of his anecdotes are peppered with small details which add a high degree of comedy to what he depicts notwithstanding the sombre nature of some of the topics. He makes his Sand Park a place of quiet reflection where he can escape and simply reflect on his thoughts. He can also burst into song in honour of Rose.
Lowry’s storytelling technique is idiosyncratic but he makes the words flow. He has your ear. He is judgemental about the throwaway habits of his daughters in relation to buying clothes but he accepts that times have changed. He tells his stories with a great deal of humour and manages to create the most hilarious aspects around the funerals of his son and his wife. He is a rebel at heart and he enjoys confessing to James Anthony the subterfuge he engaged in so that he is now able to sit on the bench in the Sand Park having this little chat with him and his recently deceased wife.
O’Rourke has created a monologue where the important things in life are paramount. The love of a man for his wife, his son and his daughters whom he does not completely understand. But also for the community of which he is a part. It is the monologue of a kind and wise man who has a fair bit of devilment in him and who may be described with admiration as “an honest rogue”. He has the audience on his side and you leave feeling calmer than when you arrived.
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