Tag Archives: Gary Heron

Irish Coffee


Calder Bookshop & Theatre

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

 Calder Bookshop and Theatre

Reviewed – 13th October 2019



“Irish Coffee has exciting potential, but this production seems intent on sabotaging itself, instead delivering a thriller that simply doesn’t thrill”


Since 2019 marks 100 years since the birth of beloved Argentinian political figure Eva Perón, it feels as apt a time as any to present work on her legacy. It’s hugely welcomed that a new play aims to shine a different sort of light on Perón than Lloyd Webber’s over-produced megamusical Evita, but unfortunately the execution of Irish Coffee leaves only a bitter taste.

In the wake of Perón’s death and the installation of a military government in place of her husband’s presidency, rumours are flying as to the whereabouts of her body, and journalists Rodolfo (Fergus Foster) and Tomás (Giorgio Galassi) are eager to find answers. In doing so, they become entangled with Colonel Moori-Koenig (Gary Heron) and his (unnamed) wife (Sally Ripley), and thus – in theory – tense political thrills ensue. The play is adapted from the real-life Rodolfo’s short story about his encounter with the Colonel, a meeting which doesn’t take place until about halfway through the script in Irish Coffee, originally written by Eva Halac and translated from Spanish by Daniel Kelly and Luis Gayol (who also takes on directorial duties). It’s no surprise, then, that that meeting makes for the best scene of the play as it had excellent source material to adapt from, although it also unfortunately highlights the lacklustre and meandering nature of the rest of the show.

Most of the scenes are two-handers between either the journalists or the Colonel and his wife, and since the people in those pairs are striving to achieve the same things, there is very little conflict or tension in those interactions, and what is there is forced and jumbled in with heaps of clunky exposition. It was somewhat astounding that Gayol worked as a translator for the text given his lack of reverence for it as a director, as the actors appeared to be following instructions to do as much unnecessary busywork in the overstuffed set as possible. In one instance, the blocking placed two actors at the very front of the intimately-sized stage, completely obscuring what was supposed to be one of the few crucial visual moments happening behind them. It felt as though the company were expecting to be performing on the National Theatre’s Olivier Stage, only to at the last second be moved to the Calder Bookshop and Theatre, which is much cosier (albeit still a delightful venue).

The performances too felt roundly under-rehearsed, as though Gayol had requested ‘shout this line’ or ‘cry here’ and the actors were doing as they were told without having found an emotional justification to do so. Despite this, Galassi and Heron both provide stellar stage presences, and as mentioned, the scenes in which the opposing sides interact begin to provide a crackle of energy -however, that happens far too late in the play and fizzles out far too soon. Irish Coffee has exciting potential, but this production seems intent on sabotaging itself, instead delivering a thriller that simply doesn’t thrill.


Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Robert Piwko


Irish Coffee

 Calder Bookshop and Theatre until 3rd November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Inga | ★★★★ | November 2018


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Inga- 4 Stars



Calder Bookshop and Theatre

Reviewed – 2nd November 2018


“Santarosa’s design for the space treated its few square metres of floor with brutal efficiency”


Inga at the Calder Bookshop and Theatre is an English-language translation of the original work, published in Russian in 1928 by Anatole Glebov. At its heart, it appears to be asking what it means to exist as an autonomous individual within a system that requires everyone to play a specific part. Set in a Soviet clothing factory at the beginning of Josef Stalin’s first five-year plan, Inga chooses to focus on the issues faced by young women. The shift from the paternalistic, male-dominated structure of pre-Soviet Russia to the hypothetically egalitarian Communist system was far from smooth sailing, and this play captures some angles of this struggle.

In many ways, there is something disconcertingly familiar about it. Perhaps there was a conscious effort in the translation, but some of the lines – “this is what happens when women are given power”, “your job is to stay at home, and look after me” certainly didn’t feel like they were last spoken in 1928. The sexism and abuse piled onto the female characters felt so draining because it’s not yet dead, and taking another look at these issues in social context so far removed from our own was a very interesting process to watch.

Similarly, the play touches in some depth on the double standards that the characters face. Two co-workers entering a relationship and the woman seeing far more consequences than her male counterpart is another situation that we still see plenty of today, and Inga managed to explore this without falling too far into the traps of cliche.

It feels important to add that this theatre space is absolutely tiny, with only a couple of dozen chairs grouped around the stage. Personally, I felt that this added an interesting element of accountability. Essentially, this is a play about individuals choosing where they stand, and justifying it to the people with whom they have to co exist. By having the audience placed so inescapably in the action, we were offered as much of a choice as any of the characters.

Marcio Andrey Santarosa’s design for the space treated its few square metres of floor with brutal efficiency, using only simple lighting techniques to shift it from location to location all the way through. At times, it did feel a little like they were doing too much. With a big cast and a variety of different threads of story running alongside one another, both the stage and plot occasionally felt a little too busy, suggesting that it could have benefited from some streamlining. With that said, the variety of focal points does allow for the situation’s complexities to translate.

This is an interesting adaptation from quite far outside the English speaking, Western canon that tends to dominate our stages, taking a long, hard look at problems that are, perhaps, completely universal.


Reviewed by Grace Patrick



 Calder Bookshop and Theatre until 25th November




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