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From 32 critic and 56 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

About the show

Irish Repertory Theatre presents Owen McCafferty's new drama about what occurred in a particular bar in 1974, and what happened in Northern Ireland from the 1960s to the '90s. Part of Origin’s 1st Irish Festival. More…

Belfast is a place where things need to be said. Following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the guns were silenced but the chasm between the Republican and Unionist sides remains wide and bitter. Tonight, in a small back-street bar in 2009, while Northern Ireland plays Poland on the TV, Jimmy and Ian will meet for the first time. They share a violent past and this is a conversation that's been brewing for more than 20 years. The Abbey Theatre in association with the Public Theater brings this important new work to Irish Rep.


"'Quietly,' Owen McCafferty’s profound and understated work directed by Jimmy Fay, is about reconciliation and redemption...In this haunting play, McCafferty distills today’s themes that appear ever present and global about hatred, ongoing revenge, and youthful violence…The production’s theatrical elements (staging, lighting, sound, costume design, etc.), adhere beautifully. The talented director and cast create a provocative, thought-provoking show." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"A powerful drama that extends beyond Protestants and Catholics and into questions of how violence and hate can wound and scar people...McCafferty offers no easy answers or moralizing. His characters are complex and imperfect...I saw this production three years ago and even knowing the story I found myself still in awe of the craftsmanship of the play and the intensity of the performances. Sadly, the message about the violent damage we do to each other remains just as timely." Full Review


"Pllaywright Owen McCafferty has burrowed into the throbbing bog of living with Belfast’s religious torn past...The cast is practically perfection. Patrick O’Kane as Jimmy deserves all the accolades he’s garnered...I have never seen him better. Declan Conlon’s genuineness is the rock all three actors build on. Without his honesty there’s only chaos…Director Jimmy Fay has handled his company so expertly it’s as if it all had to happen before us the way it does, a superb job." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A taut, intensely focused piece…Under Jimmy Fay's tense, highly observant direction, Conlon and O'Kane offer stunning performances...'Quietly' is only too relevant in this summer of terror; all the more valuable, then, is its eloquent argument that violence solves nothing, instead causing lasting harm to everyone whom it touches. At the performance I attended, it was received with the kind of rapt silence that occurs only when an audience is truly listening, hanging on every word." Full Review


“McCafferty unpacks their story in that most Irish of fashions: extended monologues recounting painful memories. Luckily, the three actors in this cast are particularly good at painting vivid pictures with their tongues...Director Jimmy Fay endows this production with plenty of deafening silences as the three men stare up at the TV screen. The air is charged with electricity...Maintaining a vague air of menace and intrigue, ‘Quietly’ never allows us to settle into a false sense of security.” Full Review

The New York Times

“It is difficult to imagine a piece of theater more perfectly suited to our jittery, antagonistic American moment than ‘Quietly,’ Owen McCafferty’s rage-filled, wounded, mournful play about terrorism, civil war and the damage that remains after the hatred cools. Directed by Jimmy Fay, this delicately acted production arrives on the stage like Dickens’s ghost of Jacob Marley, dragging the chains of sins committed long ago.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“The play unfolds in real time with the tension and urgency of Greek tragedy...O’Kane is harrowingly good, a bullet-headed knot of anger and bilious rue. Conlon’s stoical Ian is more contained, until he’s provoked past the paralysis of his guilt. And Zawadzki maintains a fine balance between the two, a gently comical observer, the bemused outsider. Jimmy Fay’s direction is rock solid and the terse, lean play grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“This is a bracing gut-punch of an evening that hits all the buttons you need but never quite goes where you expect it to...Fay's direction highlights this in its subdued tension, which is always roiling away just beneath the surface. O'Kane and Conlon make superb foils for each other...O'Kane is violently energetic, Conlon looks burned out from the eyes downward, and it's impossible to say who is scarier...'Quietly' rings out loud and clear.” Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"By the end of this drama, emotions will have exploded against a backstory of Irish history, deftly revealed under the intense direction by Jimmy Fay…The skill of the writing, the acting and the directing combine to mesmerize the audience...By the end, one is ready to applaud what has emerged as a riveting theater experience and food for thought about past events that may remind one of unrelated happenings going on now elsewhere in the world." Full Review


“Director Jimmy Fay complements the intense slow-burning dramatics with unhurried skill. But he also doesn't soft pedal one character's stunning bursts of brutal physicality...At its best, ‘Quietly’ is an impassioned play filled with gritty unpretentious dialogue. And the three terrific actors are splendidly recreating the vivid characters...It is a chilling reminder of how the climate of racism and intolerance and the threat of a terrorist attack has not significantly changed over the years.” Full Review

New York Theater

“Feels deliberately slow moving, the latter half consumed with what are essentially monologues that in the wrong hands could come off as stagey...But, under director Jimmy Fay, the actors make it credible – O’Kane, as ferocious, lean and scarred as a boxer; Conlan, defensive, in denial, and scarred; Zawadzki like a stand-in for the world, observing it all indifferently. The performances, and the specificity of the two men’s lives, help drive home the many lessons of violence.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"You could hear the proverbial pin drop in the hushed silence of the theater, as the two men spoke their truths, sometimes quietly, other times harshly and, hard to believe, eventually in a somewhat reconciliatory manner so that a level of understanding could be reached. McCafferty’s writing precisely controls the pace and emotional bits and pieces of the grief that each has lived with all these years...The threesome is brilliant as directed by Jimmy Fay." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"McCafferty’s writing is completely natural, but even with a brief 75-minute running time, it takes a while to pick up steam...'Quietly' takes us to a place where every politician needs to go. McCafferty’s piece is not about proving who is wrong or right. It is entirely about understanding and forgiveness...Offering a testament to the power of grace, 'Quietly' is the type of theater that will stick with you long after the curtain falls." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"What follows, anger and poignancy, acrimony and assent, exists equally in electrified silences and fraught discourse...Under Jimmy Fay’s assertive direction, it is the silences that offer a wider gap for us to step into, observe and absorb. 'Quietly' is a thrilling, moving and prompt reminder of the consequences of conflict on ordinary citizens from the ground up; highly recommended." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"'Quietly' is worth seeing—it absolutely is...The suspense and appeal lie in the adversaries’ give-and-take as they attempt to come to terms with their shared goal…Riveting as 'Quietly' is—the title appropriately indicates the tenor of the protagonists’ quarrel—it’s more like an appetizer than an entree. In the old days, it would have served as a strong curtain-raiser for the main event. Consequently, as they’re exiting, audiences may feel they’re hungry for more." Full Review

Epoch Times

"The performances are excellent. O’Kane shows inner rage that inexorably links him to the bombing that’s still fresh in his mind...Conlon, meanwhile, perfectly embodies a man both terminally tired and guarded...Both intriguing and involving, 'Quietly' shows both how people can change over the course of time and how, yet, in some ways they don’t really change at all." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“‘Quietly’ is emotionally rich and beautifully acted, with thick Irish brogues, under Fay’s carefully orchestrated direction, but, even at little more than an hour in length, its drama and surprises begin to dissipate. The concept is stimulating but in practice is hard to sustain. Still, one wonders, what would a play be like about a present-day terrorist seeking reconciliation with a victim 35 years from now? If they keep killing themselves, though, there’s no way we’ll ever know.” Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"McCafferty skillfully gives his characters a treasure trove of figurative language and compelling imagery...O’Kane and Conlon deliver coercive performances...They build their characters with as much depth as they can and do that with honesty. One wishes the playwright had found a way to give his characters even more depth and roundness...Fay’s direction leaves more space between words than necessary...The importance of 'Quietly' is it in its relevance to the current socio-political climate." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Irish Rep is doing a service by introducing the playwright, even if the work at hand has its drawbacks. The acting isn’t one of them...Fay punctuates the dialogue with long, awkward silences that thicken the atmosphere with tension. Still, it’s hard not to feel that the story may carry more weight for McCafferty and an Irish audience…There’s a whiff of unearned optimism in the ability of these men to abandon revenge in lieu of understanding." Full Review


"Both of the lead characters have such striking similarities that at times they come across as mouthpieces academically articulating 'The Troubles'...The production has accomplished actors in it that elevate the script...Fay has staged this small-scale work that’s essentially a series of interactive monologues with technical flair...'Quietly' is a theater piece that’s well rendered but is characterized by being overly schematic and doesn’t quite soar to the profound heights it aspires to." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"McCafferty’s slight play addresses the ease with which disaffected youth is enlisted in terrorist organizations. And one of that commitment’s personal tolls. Tension is ably sustained between explosive outbursts, but Ian’s lack of communication leaves us with only one side of the story. Acting is solid with caveats. I found gestures like Conlon’s holding his elbow with his hand at his chin less than believable as wary agitation and O’Kane’s yelling somewhat one-note." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"The actors' accents are so authentic that it took a good 20 minutes for my ears to adjust...Each word said really matters because playwright McCafferty is probing the lingering damage that such conflicts inflict on all sides. Jimmy and Ian are given equal time to expose their wounds and, under Jimmy Fay's taut direction, the actors playing them are terrific...But there's such a static quality to the back and forth in 'Quietly' that I couldn't help wishing that it had made a little more noise." Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

"Declan Conlon brings those ancient hatreds to chilling life...The perpetually seething O’Kane doesn’t convey the same psychological complexity but is nonetheless convincing as a man whose life has been ruined by violence...They offer a thoughtful portrayal of the bloody ghosts that still haunt Belfast...But, under Jimmy Fay’s direction, 'Quietly' too often consists of Ian and Jimmy hurling over-scripted speeches at each other...The overall effect is unbalanced and stagy." Full Review

Theater In The Now

“Both Conlon and O’Kane tapped into the emotional core to pull out raw and gritty performances...But when it came to Robert Zawadzki, he was relegated to being a prop...If you can get past the slug-like pacing and are intrigued by how history informs the future, ‘Quietly’ is for you. It’s a well thought out production but for those who like action, you will be bored...But you have to respect the production because it knows what it is.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Under Jimmy Fay’s appropriately invisible direction, the trio of actors do a fine job...But in the line of storytelling, some cultures may need a bit more to make a play along these lines worthwhile…Mr. McCafferty’s play takes us nowhere we don’t expect it to. It has no revelations, no particular surprises. In a way it’s pub therapy...It starts out angry, it becomes tolerant...A rough rapprochement is reached...We’re left with the sense of a case history ritual having been played out." Full Review

Great acting, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if You like powerful stories and acting.

Don't see it if You don't want a continually intensive performance.

Thought-provoking, Intense, Great acting, Profound, Relevant

See it if You enjoy moving plays that make you think.

Don't see it if You have problems understanding Irish accents and dislike talk of tragedy and violence.

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Riveting, Intense

See it if you enjoy theater that is challenging, thought-provoking and engaging. Irish rep has moved home and it is one of the best off Broadway venue

Don't see it if you want light, funny, easy entertainment.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You like intimate drama with a real-life feel.

Don't see it if You are looking for charming Irish laughter.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to be a fly on the wall of an intense personal meeting deep with hatred and a violent Irish history. Deeply human. Simple story.

Don't see it if You want politics over the personal, or if you're looking for a folklore version of Ireland. Also - if you don't like lots of talking.

Absorbing, Taut, Tense, Great ensemble work, Exquisite direction

See it if you are interested in contemporary Irish drama which reflects the troubled history of this country. Great acting. Great staging and design.

Don't see it if you are not interested in Irish drama. Also, if you do not like monologues, which keep popping up. This is intense theatre!

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if love great acting ..are a concerned person.. and can try to understand the hate problems of the world. The play is 75 minutes (one act).

Don't see it if you want a song and dance show. Be prepared to solve the 12 minute language adjustment rule.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you like intense topical drama, driven by character. great writing and acting.

Don't see it if you want something light and silly.

Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Riveting, Intense

See it if You hate violence and want a more nuanced exploration of how it comes about and its aftermath.

Don't see it if You prefer fun entertainment and have problems understanding thick accents.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if you enjoy solid acting and a story that resonates today.

Don't see it if you do not enjoy typical Irish theater, which is more telling than showing. There is a great deal of storytelling in the show.

Absorbing, Edgy, Intense

See it if Like seeing beneath the surface. The characters reveal themselves.

Don't see it if You don't like angst.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you love Irish storytelling, where the plot unwinds slowly thru dialogue; a relevant play about the lingering effects of civil war & hatred

Don't see it if you want a fast-paced uplifting play; don't want a play where you have to pay careful attention to each line of carefully written dialogue

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Irish plays with Irish actors, nonviolent stories based on "the troubles," great acting and accents, gripping story & confrontation

Don't see it if you don't like stories about "the troubles," plots that roll out in stories told by the characters, plays set in bars

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Relevant

See it if great Irish storytelling is what you seek. This is "Brian Friel" for a new generation and it's always worth seeing The Abbey Theatre.

Don't see it if small. intimate, intense story driven plays trying to make sense of the past are not for you.

Great acting, Absorbing, Edgy, Must see

See it if Like riveting acting and have always been fascinated by conflict in Ireland and the themes of reconciliation vs. revenge.

Don't see it if You have trouble with accents or like to sit in the front row- too close to some violence.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Poignant, Provocative

See it if If you are interested in the lingering Troubles in Northern Ireland

Don't see it if If you like current rather than past action

Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you like plays that spark conversations. It's about what is and isn't forgivable, and how responsible are we for our actions as teenagers.

Don't see it if you have trouble with Irish accents. I am sure I missed some of the excellent dialogue because of that.

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if timely but depressingly familiar subject matter doesn't bother you; quality acting & writing still excites despite glum human outlook

Don't see it if have trouble accepting that human behavior remains sadly consistent despite best intentions; no good deed goes unstoned

Absorbing, Edgy, Intense, Relevant, Ambitious

See it if You want some serious drama about a serious topic. You're willing to take a close look at violent acts and their aftermath.

Don't see it if You want a lighter experience.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Ambitious, Intelligent, Subtle

See it if you enjoy anything Irish. This is a bittersweet story about what might have been for one character and how two lives were changed by one act

Don't see it if I can't think of a reason not to see it.

Great acting, Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Edgy

See it if See it for a portrayal of the effects of civil unrest, hate and bigotry on people's lives; you like intimate theater in an intimate setting.

Don't see it if you are looking for an entertaining, uplifting evening; you shy away from emotional topics.

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Riveting

See it if you like serious, challenging plays about social and political issues that confront us by examining them in the context of individual lives.

Don't see it if you don't like dealing with traumatic experiences and anger.

Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Absorbing

See it if You are looking for a gripping plot with a moral lesson. You are interested The human side of "the Irish Troubles

Don't see it if You don't care for plays with moral overtones, you have difficulty discerning Irish brogues, you

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Intense, Intelligent, Great acting

See it if you can handle intense acting and challenging issues.

Don't see it if provocative theatre is not your bag.

Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if 'small' plays that pack a powerful punch. liked it even more after I left the theatre and pondered it.

Don't see it if like plays that have a big dramatic climax and doesn't wrap things up neatly

Cast & Creatives (12)