Theatre review: Morning and Afternoon
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Morning and Afternoon at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), reviewed by Susan Mansfield
This story of a pair of estranged brothers who have fled from their roots in Northern Ireland makes a subtle but striking acting debut for veteran Irish director, Andy Hinds.
His pair of self-penned monologues orbit the theme of anger, how it can strip us of the things we value, and whether it is possible to rebuild what is lost.
Niall, the younger brother, is a librarian in Germany, quietly trying to convince himself he is happy. His monologue addresses his wife and is full of love, longing and anger, chiefly at himself, for the one outburst which he fears may have cost them their happiness.
Niall begins haltingly but soon his restrained, thoughtful voice starts to emerge, recounting moments of happiness with an almost incredulous joy. Just as a new, more fulfilled phase of life seems to arrive unbidden, everything changes again and the “slow earthquake” which is released takes him right back to his lonely childhood, after his brother Danny left home.
We meet Danny in the second monologue, when a crisis drives him to seek “home” for the first time in years. He has been scraping a living in unskilled jobs, drinking what he earned “like a bad friggin’ Irish ballad”. His departure from the family home was rooted in the anger of disappointed hopes, his own and his father’s, against the backdrop of the lack of opportunities for Catholics in Derry.
Hinds is a former associate director at Bristol Old Vic, who has directed work on all of Ireland’s major stages, but his move into acting shows a new set of dimensions to his talent. His performance is deft and subtle, hinting at undercurrents of suppressed emotion which occasionally break the surface.
His writing has the kind of subtlety and vividness that always suggests there is more going on than we have time to learn about.
In two short pieces, he manages to capture two complex, wounded lives, and the ripples which spread from one family into the wider world.
MORE INFO: Morning and Afternoon at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), until 26 August
Originally published in The Scotsman