The Quiet Land (4 stars)

A two-hander looking at the ageing process and friendship

The Quiet Land

credit: Leslie Black

There are few things as life-affirming as watching two mischievous elderly men effing and blinding onstage, and Malachy McKenna's award-winning play, adapted from the radio by director Bairbre Ni Chaoimh, does just that – initially, at least.

What follows in this co-production between Bewley's Cafe Theatre in Dublin and the Òran Mór is a poignant study in human fragility and the resilience of people in the face of adversity.

Eamonn (Derry Power) an irascible old Irishman has been robbed and hospitalised, and now released, is ready to have at anyone who gets in his way – at least in his mind. His friend Nashee (Des Keogh) is a more soulful figure, harbouring his own secrets which threaten to stretch the men's life-long friendship, almost to breaking point.

Their gossip at the usual meeting place is not mere flippancy, but a battle for survival – the last men standing in a new world where wind turbines and regeneration threaten a simpler, more certain way of rural life.

Energetic and heartfelt, Power and Keogh are excellent, relishing the volley of poetry which elevates the script from obvious comparisons to Irish storytellers. McKenna's script is as full of wisdom as one-liners, but remains neither sentimental nor condescending.

Moving, warm and defiantly witty, it's drama to give a feck about.

Reviewed at Òran Mór, Glasgow.


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