Nenagh Players brought their production of Bruce Graham’s The Outgoing Tide to the Dean Crowe Theatre last night as the RTÉ All-Ireland Drama Festival continued in Athlone.

In this family drama, the man of the house is in the grip of advancing Alzheimer’s disease. Eager to avoid a care home, and to secure his wife and son’s futures, he has made up his mind to take matters into his own hands, but his decision to die on his terms swiftly meets resistance.

In his post-show comments, the adjudicator, Russell Boyce, said that director Jenny Bracken told the story in this play very well. After a slow start, he felt the director found the rhythm of the piece and thought that the pacing of the ending was particularly good.

He noted that the flashback sequences in the play could have been clunky but were handled well in this production, saying it was effortlessly done. He also admired the actors’ use of pause, which he said allowed the audience to feel what was going on with the characters.

The adjudicator was impressed at the believability that the cast of three brought to their characters and liked how they embedded themselves in the dialogue, making it sound natural. He described Kevin Walshe’s turn as the father, Gunner as a fine piece of acting, praising his speech patterns and the controlled sense of contentment he brought to the role.

He thought that Niamh Hogan was picture perfect for the part of the mother, Peg, and said that the emotional journey she took the audience through almost brought a lump to his throat. Boyce found Donal Bray’s performance as son Jack to be solid in the second act, but felt he could have been more dynamic in the first, when the script had given him less to work with.

The adjudicator congratulated those responsible for the set, saying that it provided excellent acting areas and allowed the flashbacks in the play to be clearly defined. He also commended the attention to detail that gave the set a real feel as a lakeside house.

The poignant play struck a chord with the audience last night, and Boyce concluded his remarks by thanking Nenagh Players for their performance.

Tonight, The Moat Club from Naas in Co. Kildare present the second of just two Irish plays in this year’s festival when they stage The Steward of Christendom by Sebastian Barry.

By Karina Buckley

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