Ballymaloe’s first summer theatre season opened with an adaption of Tuesdays With Morrie based on the hugely popular non-fiction book by Mitch Albom.
Mitch is a successful and driven sports journalist who sees a television feature about his old college sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz, who is dying. He pays a courtesy visit and is drawn in by the old man’s wisdom and humour; returning to visit every Tuesday. The play features the dialogue between these two men as Mitch’s machismo gradually dissolves under the old man’s influence.
It is not necessarily an easy play to stage. Morrie’s homespun wisdom and gentle, gallows humour occasionally wanders into Oprah style, self-help mode and the play treads an exceedingly treacherous path between enlightenment and mawkish sentimentality. He encouraged “the kids” to follow their dreams and spins out aphorisms such as ‘If you don’t like the culture you are in,
But Morrie is dying and this adds a profundity and depth of meaning to his otherwise rather bland and apolitical view of the world. Perhaps we are all mediocre in the face of death, and that is the point.
Terry Byrne manages to perfectly capture the humour and charm of Morrie’s character and Mitch is well played by Andrew Murray as a bundle of repressed, ambitious energy.
A promising theatrical debut for Ballymaloe in a superb theatre and the experience was certainly enhanced by the spectacular setting.
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