Poor Bren. After a long night working as a security guard, all he wants to do is sleep. But it seems his father has other ideas - he’s organised to meet his three sons at Bren’s flat. Bren, student Kevin and mouthy Andy are all expected to accompany their father to visit their mother in the hospital, but no one knows what’s wrong with her or which hospital she’s in. Surely all will become clear when Dad arrives.
Gerald Murphy’s play Take Me Away could be subtitled Why Men Need Women. Over 90 minutes, we watch the relationships of the three brothers and father gradually come undone and their lies and lives unravel in the absence of the family lynchpin - the mother who we never meet. Without her, they’re all at each other’s throats.
Proceedings unfold in the front room of fiercely private Bren’s flat. We’re as stuck within the four walls as they are. Murphy skilfully teases out the action, timing the many revelations perfectly to allow the audience the space to locate patterns of speech and behaviour between the men.
Director Lynne Parker’s production comes care of Dublin’s Rough Magic theatre and via the Dublin and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals. It’s a taut production - Parker shapes the piece well despite the odd section which comes over as too ‘shouty’.
But the success of Parker’s production and Murphy’s play, in this incarnation, is in no small part due to the actors. They are perfectly cast: Joe Hanley as the fastidious and suspicious Bren, Aidan Kelly as Andy the man who feels the world owes him a living, Barry Ward as laid back Kev and Vincent McCabe as the frustrated patriarch. It’s all-absorbing and at times extremely amusing – but too recognisable to let you laugh too hard.