Tuesdays with Morrie is so soggily sentimental that you feel as though you're taking a bath in beige marshmallow. But it's easy to predict that it will do wonderfully well: rigour is not a popular quality with the majority of Irish audiences in search of "a good night out".
The play is an adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher of the hugely successful novelised memoir of an American sports journalist called Mitch Albom who flew from Detroit to Massachusetts every Tuesday for more than a year to visit the dying Morrie Schwartz who had been his sociology professor at university.
Schwartz had Lou Gehrig's Disease, a ghastly incurable condition which destroys the nervous system slowly and painfully.
But even an awareness of this cannot make the script less than "cutesy" and manipulatively sympathetic as Morrie delivers trite "lessons in living" sayings to his erstwhile student. (It was made into a movie with the late Jack Lemmon as Morrie.)
The Irish stage premiere is produced and directed by Breda Cashe of Lane Productions. It's at the Viking pub theatre in Clontarf in Dublin, and will tour extensively until October, visiting seven other venues in Dublin as well as Galway, Limerick, Newbridge, and Navan.
Theatrically speaking, though, it is quite a corker due to the performances. Andrew Murray plays Albom with absolute conviction, ranging through the emotions of irritation, guilt and sadness with an extremely good touch. (There's an awful lot of guilt in this piece: Morrie is, after all, Jewish; and while Catholic guilt, particularly Irish Catholic guilt, usually delivers tragedy, Jewish guilt, particularly American Jewish guilt, usually delivers comedy). And Terry Byrne is almost startlingly excellent as Morrie: utterly believable, physically controlled to perfection, and with a lugubrious restraint in his delivery that makes the absolute best of the few genuinely witty sequences.
Ann Cummins is responsible for the effectively simple set and lighting.