The Empty Nest – Viking Theatre, Dublin

Reviewer: David Keane

Writer: Oisín Flores Sweeney

Director: Geoff Gould

On a winter’s night in Westport Tony (Seamus O’Rourke) and Sheila (Joan Sheehy) sit in their wingback chairs sipping wine as the television flickers. After 40 years of marriage they find themselves at a somewhat mundane crossroads in their lives. With their children grown and gone, and their granddaughter a little too often underfoot, they’re left in a hinterland of life, pondering what to do next. The glow from the television offers little comfort or entertainment but between them both Tony and Sheila have plenty to say, even if they don’t always say the things that really matter.

Sheila dreams of travel and adventure, or even just a new lawnmower, but Tony’s penny pinching puts a damper on anything with a price tag. Instead, he wants to focus on his new diet; the one that will infamously “start on Monday”. The spark in their love life may have been extinguished over time, but their quick witted interactions are electrifying. And who’s to say that this isn’t the just the beginning of something better for them both.

Written by Oisín Flores Sweeney, the action shifts seamlessly from hilarious one-liners to acute observations of Irish life. The Empty Nest wittily explores the realities of life and love for an everyday couple who are a little bit lost in the world.

O’Rourke and Sheehy’s performances capture the warts and all essence of a couple who have spent a lifetime together. Wholly relatable, this piece is intimate from the beginning. Geoff Gould’s direction keeps the pacing tight but natural, ensuring that the play maintains its momentum throughout its 50 minutes running time. The simple set offers an immediate depth, making the couple’s home feel as familiar as countless other living rooms across the country.

This wonderful little comedy is a perfect match of humour and heart, and definitely not just for

Contains strong language and adult themes.

Runs Until 11th November 2023.

The Review's Hub Score

Full of laughs

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The Reviews Hub - Ireland

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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