Jim Daly’s latest play for Waterford Youth Arts, I Can Hear The Night-Birds Sing, is a beautiful gentle human story of a young boys fears of being forever blind as a result of an accident with a swan. Despite any literary or mythic images, this is a triumph for the cast of 12-14 year olds, who met the measure of the play with maturity and genuine sympathy under the understated but well-thought-out direction of James Rockett.

Set in a hospital room, the work enables twenty young actors, in about ten scenes, to explore genuine human and mundane aspects of confronting a major life problem on the eve of exams. The work was never mawkish or overly sentimental and a beautiful love story emerged like a magic trick and I did not see it coming.

Diarmuid Brennan was a revelation of the bandaged boy, Stephen, who has so many fears to confront. Cillian Jacob was his chatty caring brother, Andrew. Rhiannon Colbert’s Sara, another patient, was an expert lesson in fine sympathetic acting. Orla Hayes surprised me with her honesty and kind nature and she achieved a lot without any wasted gesture or emotive work.

Three young hooligans, Drea Coady as Johnno, Michael Cooney as Sammy and Stephen Thul’s Christo, brought snappy humour to the play. Rachel Lavin was a joy as the forward, Martina.

Such was Jim Daly’s accuracy of writing and James Rockett’s skill as director, that some ethnic roles fitted exactly as were in no way token or issue-driven. Tiffany Lukawsky was a fine Chloe, Maikel Vos was an accurate Jan and Igor Frey as Thomasz was excellent.

Joey Molloy, Megan Foley, Megan Connolly, Shauna Stokes, Olivia Keoghan, Chloe Phelan, Jasmine Roche, Rachel Hendrick and India Harvey made up the other performers.

Jeannine Storan designed and costumed with style and Richard Collins did light and sound.

This is a play that Waterford should be very proud of.