Writer: Christian O’Reilly
Director: Mark Fitzgerald
A stripped back scene welcomes us into the world of The Good Father – a sparse but cosy set design by Eugenia Genunchi. The Boy’s School is a perfect stage for an intimate play like this.
I read Is This About Sex? by O’Reilly years ago, which contains such heart and humour that my expectations were high going into The Good Father. At a New Year’s Eve house party, Tim and Jane meet in an empty room. Can a one night stand lead to more?
With a two-hander play like this, generally you want strong performers and chemistry. Doyle’s Tim and Noll’s Jane have moments of sweetness between them, and their first encounter is utterly convincing in its awkwardness. Two people who try to mould each other into their dream, create love out of a drunken encounter. They are confident, engaging performers and my heart ached for them both in points. But something didn’t sit right in watching it, I couldn’t fully believe there was a relationship here.
Though that may have been in the pacing – while it was a two hour production, there is a lot of relationship to pack into it, and the audience are taken along for some snappy vignettes that don’t do justice to some of the more emotional moments that with time could have had a much stronger impact. The character development is a little lacking, they discover each other in snippets but in order for the audience to invest in them as a couple and as individuals, there would need to be more personality and depth.
Something that feels tiptoed around or blatantly ignored in theatre these days (this was first produced in 2002) is the subject of class. O’Reilly confronts it but there’s no resolution here. It’s hanging in the air, visible and audible always. In Jane’s correction of Tim’s pronunciation, there feels an insurmountable divide.
O’Reilly is all about the dialogue, and though he threads emotion into banter quite seamlessly throughout The Good Father, it feels like plotting fell by the wayside. It was the first time in a long time that I was left gasping at an ending, and with that gasp was the shock that O’Reilly created such an ending. To have a play with so much emotional truth in it, the resolution felt like a betrayal of everything that came before.
It’s an interesting and amusing piece that I would recommend, for the performances, witty dialogue and the inevitable conversations afterwards.
Runs Until 10th February 2024.