HAVING enjoyed successes with Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa, the Royal Lyceum is wise to serve up another helping of Brian Friel. This, though, is decidedly minor early-Friel and sets the season off to an under-powered start.

Written in 1967, Lovers is a double-bill of one-acters. The first, Winners, concerns two Irish teenagers revising for their GCEs, he the hard-working academic, she the more fanciful student, newly pregnant by him. A slight piece of character observation that makes affectionate play of their youthful romanticism and contrary conversation, it’s amusing, but only through the parallel narrative, forecasting a tragic end to this sweet summer day, does the piece make any claims to weightiness.

The second play, Losers, finds two middle-aged lovers endlessly thwarted by the demands of the woman’s bed-ridden mother. Here, love becomes embittered by circumstance. Again, it’s amusing but not gripping.

The outstanding quality of Kenny Ireland’s production is Russell Craig’s design. Suspended high above the stage, Winners has the high-definition idealism of a picture postcard, a two-dimensional vision of an idyllic moment. In Losers, the compressed perspective of the two-storey set adds to both the comedy and the claustrophobia. Katherine Igoe and Patrick Moy are strong in the former, but the latter lacks a tang of Irishness, and not only because of Russell Hunter’s accent. He and Una McLean are lively, but the play’s tragic undercurrent is not sufficiently developed to generate emotional impact.

Cast & Crew






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