Terrific Tom in the not quite perfect Doctor's Dilemma
When a performer pees on stage you know you are watching something memorable: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Didn't get a part in Game of Thrones? Philadelphia, Here I Come

Philadelphia_Here_I_Come_at_Donmar_Warehouse_Theatre_Covent_Garden_London_jpg_510x340_crop_upscale_q85As @trpw commented during the interval, Philadelphia, Here I Come is cast with all the Irish actors that aren't working on the HBO series of mega fantasy drama Game of Thrones, currently filming its third series in Northern Ireland.

Of course that was a joke and isn't in anyway to suggest that the acting talent on Thursday, for the first preview of Brian Friel's play, were any less than exemplary because they were all fantastic and who'd want to be running around a hill side with sword anyway?

Philadelphia is a fine play with a nice theatrical device through which much of its humour is derived. Gar is leaving his Irish backwater to go and live in Philadelphia with an aunt and uncle. It's the night before he is due to leave and he has to face his past loves and losses, his family history and an aloof father. 

But Gar isn't alone or at least we get to see two sides to him, his public persona played by Paul Reid and his private persona played by Rory Keenan. While Gar in Public is introverted and respectful, unable to tell those important to him how he feels and ask the questions he's always wanted to ask, Gar in Private is extrovert, irreverent and revealing.

The result is something that is very funny, poignant and quietly tragic. Gar is an only child of a young mother who died giving birth to him. His father (James Hayes) has withdrawn into the monotonous routine of running his shop and playing backgammon with the local Canon (Benny Young). He treats Gar like an inexperienced shop boy. Gar fosters one tender memory of his childhood in which his father took him fishing but has begun to doubt its authenticity.

As Gar debates with himself we are also privy to flashbacks which tell a tale of a girlfriend Kate (Laura Donnelly), whom he wanted to marry but managed to lose to someone else. He has every reason to leave and start afresh but for the unanswered questions about his mother and his fishing memory. 

And I enjoyed Philadelphia, Here I Come. It was cleverly done and a testament to the skill of the actors having a very vocal yet 'invisible' character on stage often talking right at them. This is a play that is just going to get better and better as the actors bed in and I'd be curious to see it again in a few weeks. Funny and quietly moving I'm going to give it four and a half stars.

It runs at the Donmar until 22 September.

Second opinion here from @polyg


Rory Keenan was in Birdsong which starred Clemence Poesy who play Mr W's queen in Richard II