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Published on April 8th, 2011 | by Niamh


The East Pier at the Abbey Theatre

Jean and Kevin knew each other way back when. You can tell. You just know that they knew each other at some point – but not any more. It takes a while to figure it out, for them to actually get through the small talk and get to the real reason that they know each other.

The East Pier opens on a large hall with a dreadful patterned carpet, piled up chairs, a dusty oul chandelier, an abandoned vaccuum cleaner and a general sense of neglect. Kevin (Don Wycherley) enters first, he is looking for someone, searching inside and out, nervous, twitchy and eventually he settles a little until Jean (Andrea Irvine) arrives. Once together – they have clearly arranged to meet here – they dance around each other. Talking around each other, how’ve you been? Kids? Married? How are your parents? Oh I met Billy Williams recently, remember him?

Bit by bit their story is spun. They talk like strangers because they haven’t seen each other in a long time. They slip into and out of an intimacy in their conversation that eventually leads to how they knew each other and why on an average day they both decided to go to an old haunt to see each other. Far away from where they both are expected to be, they had agreed to meet after a chance encounter in a shopping mall.

The East Pier is very much about memory and shared recollection. We all have memories we cherish and hold dear but if you relay them to the people who were there at the time, will they remember the same thing as you? It is an emotional yet thwarted love story, realistic and sadder for it.

Jean and Kevin vowed they would never part.

A lifetime later, one January afternoon in a small harbour town, their paths cross once again; a chance encounter between two stray souls who discover they are still as deeply connected as they are strangers to one another.

The East Pier is a Paul Mercier world premiere, running alongside The Passing, another Mercier work currently receiving it’s world premiere at the Abbey. Both of them are running until Saturday 16th April so you still have a chance to catch both.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.abbeytheatre.ie or by calling the Abbey Box Office on (01) 878 7222.

Photos are by Derek Speirs and courtesy of the Abbey Theatre.

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You can reach me on niamh@culch.ie :)

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