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|Manchester Evening News City Life review (excerpt)|
Excellent performances in a razor sharp production of a compelling psychological thriller make this regional premiere one of the very best rep productions of the year so far.
Conor McPherson (his The Weir was seen here a couple of years ago) continues to push out the boundaries. Like The Weir, this is a ghost story of sorts but with an ending that brought gasps of shock from the first night audience.
Ian, a former priest turned therapist, is trying to help John, whose wife was killed in a car crash. John's problem is that he keeps seeing his dead wife.
But Ian too is troubled. He left the priesthood to be with the mother of his daughter but now wants out of the relationship. As their two stories unfold in parallel, the theme is guilt, guilt and more guilt.
Through five scenes and an interval-less 105 minutes, McPherson guides the roller coaster of his imagination into mundane everyday domestic events, through deep grief and high comedy. In fact, despite the overall subject matter, this isn't a gloomy evening, it's totally engrossing and often very funny.
The Octagon's artistic director Mark Babych is at the helm and his rapport with the play is absolutely clear, it's perfectly pitched.
The cast is led by George Irving, who gives a totally believable portrait of the initially confused widower who eventually recovers his confidence.
Superb support from Paul McCleary as the therapist, Mairead Conneely as his partner and Conor Michael Ryan as a rent boy.