A short little Friel festival here in the Gate, confusingly I think it has nothing to do with the Theatre Festival, which also starts around now.
Anyway, it comprises 3 plays - Faith Healer and two one act plays - Afterplay and The Yalta Game. Having seen Faith Healer recently - I decided to go to the other two. Conveniently one was at 6.30 and one at 8.30, thus allowing for a quick'n'spicy Korean meal in Dublin's nearby new Chinatown area.
First up was Afterplay, a nice piece imagining if a character from Three Sisters met up with the niece of Uncle Vanya. The pair meet in a Moscow cafe, about 20 years after the events of the earlier plays. It's obvious from the start that they are both not over those events, and that she copes with her loneliness with drink and he copes with his (and other problems) by deluding himself and those around him.
Nothing much happens, but it's full of typical Friel dialogue, and has a resolution of sorts, and overall it works pretty well. Well acted too.
The 2nd play I saw, The Yalta Game, I preferred by some margin. Also very well acted - this one is also a 2 hander, with Risteard Cooper and his female companion, both very convincing and engaging.
The play is based on an episode in a Chekov short story, thereby completing the evening's Friel tribute to his Russian hero, and has even better dialogue than the earlier play. Cooper's character is holidaying alone in Yalta, and has his eye out for romantic distraction. Well, he soon finds it, and the play concerns their dialogue with each other and with themselves. I've never seen such overlapping between solilaquay and 2-way dialogue work so well, and there are some very funny lines. I won't spoil the ending, but suffice to say the short flirtatious affair turns into something more serious, allowing Friel to introduce theme's such as obsession and over-imagination. Oh and there's a dog too. Probably.
Worth seeing, at the very least just to see Risteard Cooper, who one would have thought would have only been good as a comic actor (his most famous role is as a TV mimic), but this is the 3rd time I've seen him in a straight acting role, and bloody good he is at it..