“Poetic, crude and magical”: Theatre review of Port Authority

Phelim Drew

Phelim Drew

Port Authority is an Irish tale of regret, fear and missed opportunities. The stage is bare apart from four wooden benches, this is theatre stripped back to the very basics.  We the audience are witness to three men at three different stages of life, a young Kevin, middle aged Dermot and an elderly Joe.  We experience their stories through monologues which are interlinked, when one man is talking, the other two sit silently on the benches. The director Andrew Flynn says “The play expertly exposes the heart of the common man” which is true, and although the women are silent in the play we learn a lot about men’s innermost feelings about the opposite sex.

The play is written by Conor McPherson, directed by Andrew Flynn and brought to us by Decadent Theatre.   Carl Kennedy plays Kevin, a young man moving out of home for the first time in Dublin’s north side.  Kevin is one of life’s supporting characters, he lives on the periphery, he’s not a punk like his friends, he’s not in a band like most of his friends and according to him he has fallen in with the crowd purely because of chance.  Dermot played by Phelim Drew is in contrast one of life’s buffoons, failing to excel at anything he has undertaken. He obtains the job of his dreams by chance and is for a moment briefly seduced by the Celtic Tiger.  Joe played by Garret Keogh is a self-confessed unassuming man who lived a very normal life; he is plagued by regret by what could have been after meeting his ‘soul mate’ but failing to act on the meeting because of fear and a wife and two children or as he says “it’s what you do”.

The three men’s stories are linked arbitrarily, the more pertinent link that’s binds these stories is of that specific Irish feeling; fear.  Fear, regret and frustration at missed opportunities for which they only have themselves to blame.  It is this fear and regret that the audience identity with, these characters go with the flow. As Joe describes himself and his wife Liz “There was nothing either wrong nor right about us”.  Surprisingly though, there is humour and lots of it.  There are genuinely funny episodes which lighten the mood.  This is not an easy or passive experience for the audience. We need to work nearly as hard as the actors; it is one hour and 35 minutes of uninterrupted conversation between the actors and the audience. Luckily, we are richly rewarded; the actors are faultless and deliver solid performances which are heightened by McPherson’s language which is at once poetic, crude and magical.  This play will leave you with a fresh sense of motivation not to suffer from the regret that these men feel.

– reviewed by Emma Toner

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Port Authority runs at the Civic Theatre, Tallaght until this Saturday, 27th October. Tickets are €20 & €16 and keep an eye out on facebook for special offers.

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About Civic Theatre

The Civic Theatre's Mission is to mount an artistic and challenging programme of contemporary and classical Irish and international work in Theatre, Dance, Opera and Music for the community of South Dublin county and environs. History The Civic Theatre, opened in March 1999, a project of South Dublin County Council and also grant aided by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands. The first production at The Civic Theatre Tallaght was Howie the Rookie by Mark O'Rowe, directed by Mike Bradwell and starring Aidan Kelly and Karl Shiels. It opened on the 23rd March 1999. Since opening we have developed relationships with most Irish theatre companies and most opera, contemporary dance, ballet and children's theatre companies, developing healthy audiences for these. We are particularly proud of our co-productions – to date we've produced; or co-produced 22 plays, involving new Irish writing. We have hosted wonderful international productions, fantastic local work, and we have had some terrific nights of music on stage at the Civic.
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