Afterplay – Bewley’s Café Theatre, Dublin

Reviewer: Dove Curpen

Writer: Brian Friel

Director: David Horan 

Calling all Chekhov enthusiasts, Friel fanatics and all! Brian Friel expertly borrows characters from Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Three Sisters. No previous knowledge of either plays are necessary as this one-act focuses not on their past but is earnestly concerned with their future. The drama unfolds when Andrey from Three Sisters meets Sonya from Uncle Vanya in a humble café. How aptly fitting that Bewley’s Café Theatre is the perfect setting for this meeting as the audience are sat around tables as if transported to that same café in Moscow. The chemistry between Karen Ardiff and Barry Barnes is effortless and palpable. The pair are truly exceptional. Throughout the entire play, they sit facing each other in conversation, the set is simple and bare, and yet the conversation between the two continues to leave the audience on the edge of their seats. There is a tease of flirtation and romance, but will they or won’t they?

Sonya (Karen Ardiff) and Andrey (Barry Barnes) are strangers who met the night before and as fate would have it, accidentally find each other again. They both have lost their spouses and a running theme of the show is “the tundra of aloneness, of loneliness.” Unrequited love, difficulties of parenthood and the pursuit of purpose also make an appearance speckled with sarcasm and humour. The true triumph is not Friel’s celebrated and acknowledged genius way of putting pen to paper and transforming what could be described as a mere ‘date’ to something so much more, but rather the evocative and alluring performance by the two actors. David Horan’s direction is excellent in keeping the suspense throughout the play. While the attraction between both characters is present, all is revealed at the very last moment. 

While the romance is not the focal point of the play, it allows for this hour long conversation. It allows the audience to dive into the lives of these borrowed and complex characters. A memorable and hilarious drama that will leave the audience hopeful and reflective after blackout. 

Running for just under an hour at Bewley’s Café Theatre, Afterplay is a must-see. An ideal lunchtime activity, there is no excuse for missing this one. 

Runs until 23 December 2022

The Review's Hub Score

A must see!

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The Ireland team is currently under the editorship of Laura Marriott. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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