This week’s theatre highlights: TRAD and Flights

Catch the final dates of the well-travelled and well-received production of TRAD

Seamus O’Rourke is nominated in the Best Actor category of the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for his performance as Son in TRAD

Seamus O’Rourke is nominated in the Best Actor category of the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards for his performance as Son in TRAD

Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, February 4th-5th; Riverbank Arts Centre, February 6th; Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick, February 8th
In Mark Doherty’s TRAD a centenarian sets out on a voyage of discovery. Son has lived life in the shadow of his father, Da. Trapped in rural Ireland, the opportunities for romance were so slim they could be whittled down to the singular. From a chance encounter, however, Son had a son, whose existence he did not know about until his 100th birthday. Accompanied by the ancient Da, whose physical decrepitude is compensated for by mental acuity, Son sets out to find him. Longford’s Livin’ Dred are finishing up the final dates of their well-travelled, well-received production directed by actor Aaron Monaghan, who draws emotional and physical power from the small ensemble. Seamus O’Rourke, who was nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Actor for his performance as Son, is particularly impressive, while Clare Barrett finds comic meat in the minor roles of Fr Rice and Sal. Designer Naomi Faughnan’s set provides a beautiful miniature backdrop, which Suzie Cummins lights with atmospheric subtlety. If TRAD is traditional in its absurdist exploration of Irish themes, its execution by Livin’ Dred feels contemporary and fresh.

Project Arts Centre, until February 8th; Clapham Omnibus, February 11th-29th
“Flights is not a play about men not being able to articulate themselves,” John O’Donovan writes by way of introduction to the published text of his new play Flights. “It’s not filled with brooding, unsaid feelings. Silence is not their problem; if anything they have too many words. It’s not the inability to speak, but the fact that they are speaking to a world that has no interest in listening that’s troubling them.” For O’Donovan, putting their stories in the public forum of the theatre ensures they get heard. Flights brings together three young men grieving the sudden death of a friend, but they have their own grievances; primarily value in a world where economy is a measure of self-worth. Continuing a long tradition of Irish plays set in pubs, there are echoes of all the great (male) playwrights here. There is rage, weakness, fatigue and apathy, but there is also the evasive, comic banter of men unsure about revealing themselves. Colin Campbell, Conor Madden and Rhys Dunlop are directed by Thomas Martin, for One Duck Productions.

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