Critics ultimately felt Gabriel Byrne’s memoir adaptation of “Walking with Ghosts” to be mediocre. Though the actor is undoubtably talented and watchable, the script felt one-dimensional and like it never quite dove in deep-enough or connected stories to a satisfying level, and that Lonny Price’s hands off direction made for two hours of watching a man whose best work comes from his subtle reactions, simply talk and talk. That said, the man himself is more than engaging, and some of the stories he tells and the way he tells them in the show are indeed wonderful. So if you’re a Gabriel Byrne fan, this show might still satisfy. If not, you might be better served looking elsewhere.
The New York Times Review of Walking With Ghosts
The show is drawn, often verbatim, from Byrne’s recent memoir of the same name. … The wispy show, by contrast, follows a strict chronology, but even here Byrne favors association over causality, image over argument — offering a slide show of the mind, with little relation between and among the anecdotes. … Who wouldn’t want to spend a clinical hour with this man? Or two, plus intermission. And yet, the transition from page to stage feels undermotivated, incomplete. The lively language shifts easily enough from prose to monologue, and Byrne — with his wide, serious face, his bright, worried eyes, his voice like the growl of a polite bear — is compulsively watchable. What the show lacks (and this is true of the memoir, as well) is a sense of why he’s examining his life now. In public. … “Walking With Ghosts” never provides satisfying answers, even as it keeps the focus relentlessly on Byrne, with little to distract from his performance.
Variety Review of Walking With Ghosts
Despite the abundance of other projects, this polished but informal program (unobtrusively directed by Lonny Price) of personal anecdotes, private memories and rueful reflections on his life seems special. … As a writer, Byrne is no Brendan Behan, but the sincerity of his voice is a fine cover for whatever artlessness it disguises. … It isn’t until the end of the piece that he turns to his father and mother with some detailed recollections that — spoiler alert — are just too sad a note to end the show on.
The Daily Beast Review of Walking With Ghosts
But some of the stories Byrne tells us, as beautifully distilled and performed from his bestselling memoir as they are, also feel not fully told. They touch on serious subjects, and things that have reverberated in his life—but the deeper ones feel too glancing in the telling. Unlike perhaps the full book, the stage show feels like a peekaboo exercise in memoir, and the reticence, or self-editing, or whatever it is, ill serves some of the material.