Theatre review: The Good Father

The sharp dialogue and narrative energy of this drama of unintended pregnancy mask the timelessness of its core themes

Venue: Axis

Date Reviewed: March 11th, 2015

Website: www.axis-ballymun.ie

Phone: 01-8832100

Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 16:08

   

The Good Father

Axis, Ballymun

***

Although Christian O’Reilly’s deceptively zippy two-hander gives the appearance of being a self-consciously authentic portrait of contemporary Irish single life, its sharp dialogue and narrative energy mask the timelessness of its core themes. Not that this is obvious from the play’s opening scenes.

When lippy painter and decorator Tim (Emmet Kirwan) meets the well-spoken Jane (Nyree Yergainharsian) at a New Year’s Eve party, they drunkenly bond over their common ennui with the festivities around them and their lack of direction in life, leading to a spur-of-the-moment tryst. When they next meet, a month later, they have another connection. Jane is pregnant and, much to his surprise, Tim is the father, despite having been told he is not “fertile”.

Under Mark O’Brien’s direction, the opening salvos crackle with punchy gags and sparky exchanges, with Kirwan in particular shining. But as Jane’s pregnancy progresses, personal differences and difficult developments emerge, leading to a more reflective air as the characters find their sense of themselves tested. And if the denouement owes more to narrative arcs than real life, it ensures the ambience doesn’t become too skewed towards the earnest.

The two actors respond well to the changes in mood, never letting light or dark dominate their performances. Just as striking is O’Reilly’s text. The play, first performed by Druid in 2002, has stood the test of time well, its concerns and scenario as relevant now as they were more than a decade ago. Indeed, one wonders why the Axis production felt the need to slip in new lines about Facebook updates. Such modern references paradoxically feel anachronistic when set beside O’Reilly’s lightly worn social observations and personal insights, which result in a lively and satisfying drama. Until March 21st

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