These Halcyon Days

AnitaReevesTheatreTour2 - Anita R and Stephen B. 2

Bath Avenue-based theatre company Landmark Productions have embarked on a wide-ranging tour of their latest show. Having opened in the Irish Arts Centre, New York, on May 7th, These Halcyon Days by Deirdre Kinahan returns to Ireland this month for a nationwide tour before heading over to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

A two-hander, set in a nursing home, the play stars Gate stalwart Stephen Brennan and Anita Reeves, who many Dubliners will recognise for her role on stage in the celebrated Little Gem and is derived from a shorter work Salad Days which the playwright wrote for the Abbey Theatre.

Anita wasn’t worried about taking on a play with no supporting characters and only the two principals to carry the weight. “Little Gem had just the three of us and I did that for two and a half years but that was a string of monologues. The challenge here was that it was just the two of us, but the play is nearly all dialogue. There’s a music-like quality, very chatty and quick in places, then slow and conversational. The other actor becomes very important for that reason: it has to be a duet performance.”

Anita’s character Patricia is a retired school teacher who finds herself falling victim to debilitating mini-strokes. A character who prizes her independence, Patricia finds herself unable to live at home unsupervised and reluctantly takes a room in a care home for the elderly, where she meets Sean.

Anita explained that she didn’t seek out the role. “I was in Spain, where I sometimes take off to when I’m not working, and I got an e-mail from Deirdre (Kinahan) through my agent. She was in the middle of writing These Halcyon Days and had thought of me for the part, so she sent along an excerpt. And, of course, I liked it.”

Talking more about her character, Anita elaborated on the life experiences she drew from for the role. “When I was young, I worked in St James’ Hospital in the elderly wards. I was a nurse’s aide for six months, so the topic of the play wasn’t new to me. The main thing is always the writing, though. Great writing does the work for you, shows you where you are, like a really good, detailed map.”

Maybe the most daunting aspect of These Halcyon Days is the scale of the tour planned. “I get tense about leaving home,” Anita said. “I miss my cooker, my kitchen… and the people, of course. But Edinburgh will be great fun. You never know how it will be, you might be putting on a show at 11 am. It’s not the usual at all.”

More info on These Halcyon Days is available at

Above: Anita Reeves with Stephen Brennan.

By Ruairi Conneely