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A CurtainUp London Review
There are two things keeping Killian where he is, in Coolatully, besides a lack of action. His brother Seamus died suddenly in an accident less than a year ago and his mother needs help with running the bar which has precious few customers and doesn't open in the evening any more. Killian also visits an elderly friend, Jimmy (Eric Richard) to offer to help him around the house.
A fourth man returns to Coolatully, a contemporary of Killian and Eilish, Padraig or Paudie O'Sullivan, who was sentenced to six months in prison for stealing from a church collection box..
Fiona Doyle's grasp of authentic dialogue is excellent as she lyrically defines her characters on a downhill trajectory. Paudie now with a criminal conviction, Jimmy getting old and infirm and whose daughter wants him to move away closer to her, and Killian, whose days of sporting fame and glory are all in the past. Only Eilish with her flight to Australia booked has something to look forward to. The parallels with the 19th century Irish Potato Famine are real. For men there is the crisis of unemployment and the impact on their self esteem. Both Killian and Paudie spend time at Seamus' makeshift grave, no money yet for a gravestone, missing their brother and friend. Again they are looking back.
But the story is not uplifting. It compounds the despair when intentions are good but the action is wrong. They report thefts in the community where people are repeatedly burgled. Unfortunately we see the turn of the plot coming from several scenes before and can predict the outcome.
The performances are sound. I especially liked Eric Richard's kindly and long winded Jimmy. David Mercatali's direction is natural and Max Dorey's set adapts from cottage to bar with ancient floorboards merging with the outside but the overall impression in Coolatully is of gloom and economic despondency.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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