Theatre review: When We Were Young, Everyman, Cork


Theatre review: When We Were Young, Everyman, Cork

Directed and written by Marion Wyatt and inspired by her parents, this love story, set between the late 1940s and 1950s, is very much a period piece with plenty of attention to detail, from the old-fashioned perambulator to the costumes.

It’s a very busy piece of drama with cast of nine, some playing multiple roles. It’s a family saga as well as a romantic tale. The lead characters, Tina and Finbar, fall for each other. But Finbar, who works for the British Navy, is away at sea a lot which Tina finds hard. That is to be the pattern of their relationship when they marry in London and set up home. Tina is lonely and hankers after her native Wexford. It is a source of conflict for the couple.

Then there is Cork man Finbar’s dream of going to Australia. Earlier in the play, his wise Uncle Ted advised his nephew to see the world and not settle down until he’s mature enough. But Finbar swept Tina off her feet when the two were very young. And Australia is too far away for Tina.

A tragedy ensues which has a marked effect on Tina. Neither she nor her husband can bring themselves to talk about it. In the programme notes, Wyatt writes that the secret, “in turn, affected me in a deeply profound way.”

Marnie McCleane-Fay as Tina comes across as conflicted. There is always the tug of home for this lonely woman. Damien Burke as Finbar is a strange mixture of mild-mannered and volatile. He is controlling when he loses his temper but otherwise, is soft and clearly besotted with Tina.

Overseeing the spectacle is a character called Angel, a young ethereal figure who is not visible to the characters in the play. She has a cache of letters written by the couple.

Overall, the play, which includes song and dance, is too long and the first act is slow and lacking in dramatic tension. But there many threads in this story that merit further development.

  • Continues until April 16

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