It’s very strange when life seemingly imitates art, which happened to me this past Saturday; when the bomb exploded on 23rd Street, I was in the Irish Rep on 22nd Street watching Quietly, a play with a character who threw a bomb when he was a teenager. If you haven’t seen this play by Owen McCafferty, be sure to see it before it closes this Sunday. Set in a bar in Belfast, there are only three characters – Robert, the Polish bartender, and two bar patrons, Jimmy and Ian, who were on opposite sides – and hence enemies – during The Troubles. Now Jimmy and Ian are meeting to revisit that time – what they did, what they didn’t do, who they lost, how it changed their lives.
The tension unfolds softly, steadily, then erupts as old events are relived, and Jimmy and Ian are forced to come to terms with their actions and consequences, and say “sorry” for inflicting wounds that will never heal. The play illustrates how our unwillingness to see someone else’s point of view, or to even try to understand it, leads to a cycle of violence – societal and personal – that can only be broken when individuals are willing to face up to what they have done, and their victims are willing to try to reconcile. Quietly also clearly demonstrates how easily youth are recruited and coerced into doing monstrous deeds by adults intent on political gain. The economical writing and acting make for a superb production (this subject material could easily be over-written and over-acted); you feel like you’re in the bar with the characters. I heartily recommend seeing it.