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Philadelphia Here I Come! review at Gaiety Dublin

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The work of Brian Friel is rarely overstated, not least this 1964 play. Directed by celebrated actor Adrian Dunbar, an all-star cast fails to unite completely. The result being that the first scene is almost unbearable as we wait in anticipation for the actors to become characters. Melting slightly into their roles towards the break, the production returns with a much more powerful performance in the second half.

The public and private protagonist Gar – played by Ruaidhri Conroy and Marty Rea respectively – is half an outstanding performance. Rea illuminates the stage single-handedly without the help from the lighting team – Conroy stands in his shadow, at times without little justice.

Memorable performances come from Stella McCusker as Lizzy Sweeny, John O’Toole as Master Boyle and Walter McMonagle as SB O’Donnel, while Eileen Pollock’s Madge is unconvincing and over the top for most of the production.

Humorous banter coloured the play in various forms and was delivered well by some of the actors.

The stage is dressed to perfection by Monica Frawley for the sixties Donegal house – its tones and colours play well with Paul Keogan’s mood-shifting lighting.

As a play, this is certainly one of Friel’s greats, as a production, it is only firing on half cylinders.

Production Information

Gaiety, Dublin, February 16-21

Brian Friel
Adrian Dunbar
The Association of Regional Theatres (Northern Ireland)
Cast includes
Ruaidhri Conroy, Marty Rea, Eileen Pollock, John O’Toole, Stella McCusker
Running time
2hr 20mins

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