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“The Salvage Shop is an example of believing in something for its own sake, and not for personal or commercial gain,” comments Niall Toibin. “I’ve never seen so many people and men in their sixties weeping. I found it a very satisfying play to do.”
Jim Nolan centers the emotional power of The Salvage Shop around the character of Sylvester Tansey, the elderly bandmaster of the Garristown Brass Band and his painful attempts to come to terms with his own life and the broken relationship with his son.
Sylvie Tansey had been grooming his son to take on the position of bandmaster when he at last laid it aside.
A disagreement, however, has turned the father-son relationship sour, and the disillusioned old bandmaster, who has taken to drink, is facing the prospect of a coup d'etat by the other band members who want to appoint a new bandmaster. Sylvester, however, refuses to lay his conductor's baton down. Not only does he still retain the hope that his son will one day take over from him, but the high point of his life has become the annual town regatta, when the band takes centre stage.
The story deals with the theme of reconciliation. Because Silvie is now dying, it is very sad in places, but there is also a lot of humour as well as layers of meanings and emotions.
Niall Toibin inhabits the part (of Sylvie) so thoroughly and so convincingly that The Examiner critic observed that "one cannot imagine any other than Toibin playing Sylvie. “
"The play has its roots in reality because
the old bands used to operate on a kind
of 'dynastic' principle, with father's
passing the baton to their sons.”
"Sylvester's huge disappointment is based on the fact that this connection is being broken in his family. Essentially, The Salvage Shop is a play about personal failure and the possibility of redemption. And music plays a crucial role, whether it's the music of the band or that of Pavarotti, one of Sylvie's idols," says Jim Nolan.