By Molly Biggar
4 stars – A real conversational piece
Lenny Abrahamson’s latest Sally Rooney adaptation, Conversations with Friends follows
the lives of four central characters- married couple Nick and Melissa who meet and
befriend former flames turned friends, Bobbi, and Frances.
Set in the present day in Dublin, the show mainly focuses on Frances and gives the audience
her perspective and point of view throughout. This way of staying true to the novel is essential
when we are shown Frances’ struggles with her mental health, self-harm, and her
The most impressive aspect of the show is the casting. While straying slightly from the
novel and introducing Melissa and Bobbi as British and American, respectfully, rather
than Irish, the portrayal of Frances and Nick was perfection. For a debut performance by
Alison Oliver in her role as Frances and fresh out of drama school, her effortless and
innocent show of the character’s flaws and imperfections perfectly emulated the
character originally written by Rooney.
I really resonated with Frances in the book. Oliver’s representation also really hit me as
relatable and I think that with tackling the heavy situations that Frances faces, Oliver’s
talent really shone through in her performance.
Oliver’s performance of the character dealing with several struggles was also perfectly
met by her chemistry with married boyfriend Nick, played by The Favourite’s Joe Alwyn.
The torrid love affair was believable to no end and the passion and emotion shown
during their romance felt like it had leapt from the pages of the book and onto the
Following the success of the BBC’s last Rooney adaptation Normal People, expectations
on social media were high and for the most part these high standards were met.
If you were a fan of Normal People, then this should be next on your watch list. Whether
it’s something in the Irish air or the beauty of Trinity College’s campus, any work by
Rooney is powerful enough to draw you in and fully submerge you into the story which is flawlessly done by the ensemble and set.
Derry Girls’ Tommy Tiernan’s performance as Frances’ alcoholic father, Dennis, came as a
shock surprise to me. In a drastically different setting, his performance really sold the
character’s struggles and the implications this had on Frances.
Like any good and immersive show, Conversations with Friends only leaves you wanting
more. Frances and Nick’s final conversation told you enough to leave you guessing but
also enough to satisfy the ending of the story in that chapter of their lives.
The criticism of the characters online, whether it’s dislike and contempt for one character
or love and affection for another, only highlight the power of the performances and
the appeal of another great adaptation.