Tuesday, April 09, 2013

'Lovers' resumes tonight


The whole thing about Brian Friel's 'Lovers' is that it is two distinct stories, writes Brian Byrne. Both about love, but at different ends of the generational spectrum.

So I'm taking them separately. Last Saturday night I watched the first of two 'Winners' performances. Because there are two pairs of the young lovers involved, alternating pairs of actors. And they each deserve their own respects.

The characters are Mag and Joe — Aideen Delahunt and Stephen Clare — teenagers revising their work for their Leaving Cert in a few weeks' time. And preparing also for their marriage very shortly afterwards. Because Mag is two months pregnant. That the date of the play is in 1966 is its own indicator of the necessity for marriage, as it was only in subsequent decades that the acceptability of single motherhood came.

The pair meet on the hill that overlooks their town. For the revision, and for a picnic, and to observe the goings on below in the childrens life they are about to leave.

I suppose it's because they are still technically children, they seem to us who are older to be somewhat naive about their current position and about their future. But they are, or at least Mag is in the initial part of the play, enthusiastic about looking forward. Except that Joe isn't paying that much attention, being seriously stuck in his revision. Indeed, we wonder are they at all suited to each other, or is it just a marriage of shotgun necessity?

Then, while Mag is sleeping, Joe finishes his work, and starts letting us know about his own thoughts on that future. Except that this time it's Mag who's not paying attention. So, separately, they do have aspirations fairly along similar roads, but there's a lack of communication.


Of course, there's looming tragedy, and because of the narrators — Fergal Sloan and Sabina Reddy — who are recalling from the future that particular day, we get early hints of how that might pan out. But what's most important, and very well done by the author, is that in their short afternoon on the hill, the young lovers swing through virtually all of the ups and downs of many years of marriage, in an afternoon's conversation. Which means that, in 'the story of why', all is never quite what it seems from switch to switch.

The play is directed by Eilis Phillips, and she gets a really good performance from the pair, who well deserved the long curtain call applause they received. It bodes well for tonight's version, with Lisa Dowling and Conor O'Sullivan in the roles. And, of course, this time I'll get to see the 'Losers' part too.

As always, Kilcullen Drama Group productions are absolutely 'must-see's. Book your place now if you haven't already, for a night during the rest of the week.