[W]hen the play takes its uncorrectable skid into tragedy, there’s enough dramatic force to make you feel for the characters, even the ones you laughed at. At nearly 100 years old, O’Casey’s play still packs heat.
The cast is miraculously right, though none of the 10 actors appear to be “performing.” Instead, they create the wholly persuasive illusion of being a group of ordinary people who are simply living their lives.
The general excellence of Irish Rep’s production of The Shadow of a Gunman makes one look forward to seeing the next two shows in its O’Casey Cycle. Let’s mention, finally, that the playbill features several pages of historical context as well as a glossary that theatergoers likely will find to be helpful in appreciating these classic plays.
The play premiered at the Abbey Theatre 94 years ago staring Sara Allgood and Michael J. Dolan. In The Lost O’Casey ANU Productions take the play out of the theatre and lead the audience through a journey exploring the play and its multiple endings, “the ending I wanted, the ending they wanted and the compromise.”
We are very sad to note the death of Doreen Keogh on 31st December 2017.
She will probably be most widely remembered for her television roles which were many and varied including a notable stint as Coronation Street’s barmaid. She also appeared with distinction in Ballykissangel, The Royle Family and Father Ted.
She has a strong connection with the plays of Sean O’Casey too, appearing in Sam Wanamaker’s UK tour of Purple Dust, Juno and the Paycock at the Aldwych, Silver Tassie at the Almeida and Shivaun O’Casey’s production of The Shadow of a Gunman.
Doreen trained at the Abbey Theatre School before joining the company at The Gate Theatre and later moving to London sparking a long career in television and radio in addition to her stage work.
It is very sad indeed to note the death of Howard Davies. His recent productions of O’Casey plays were very successful indeed and as Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre says, “His work, particularly on the American, Russian and Irish canons, was unparalleled. His reputation among actors, writers, directors and designers alike was beyond question, and has been for so long that his name has become a byword for quality and depth.”
Howard won Olivier Awards three times for The White Guard, The Iceman Cometh, and All My Sons and was nominated a further three times. He took several productions from the UK to successful runs on Broadway and mounted several productions in New York. He was also integral in the founding of the Warehouse Theatre that went on to become the Donmar Warehouse.
Shivaun O’Casey was interviewed by Fergal Keane before a performance of Sean O’Casey’s Plough and the Stars at the National Theatre. The interview touches on the National’s production, the writing of the play, the reaction to the play and the effect of that on Sean and his relationship to Ireland.
The Plough and the Stars runs through October 22nd at the National Theatre. Tickets can be purchased online or by contacting the box office on 020 7452 3000.
Sean Holmes’ production of The Plough and the Stars for the Abbey Theatre has been a huge success at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC. Writing for The Washington Post Nelson Pressley writes,
It’s a grubby milieu that screams poverty and hardship, yet as always the O’Casey characters are joltingly alive. The production’s triumph is the fluid, splendidly balanced ensemble, which for harmony and power rivals any other cast seen in Washington this year.
He goes on to say,
[T]his vigorous performance, which will tour elsewhere in the United States later this year, convincingly reinforces the mettle of O’Casey’s great play.
Place is an important part of any life. While Sean’s plays are very much about people, those people are the product of a very particular environment. We can’t travel back in time but we can traverse the same spaces.
Playwright Elizabeth Kuti examines The Silver Tassie as part of the BBC Radio 3 Minds at War series. She looks at how the second act works to question the meaning of the war and how the final act places the meaninglessness of the war and its consequences back into the lives of the soldiers and their families.
Kuti goes on to put the play in context in Sean’s life looking at the rejection from W.B. Yates and support from G.B. Shaw as well as how the play fits in the context of other war plays including Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, Joan Littlewood’s Oh What a Lovely War! and Sarah Kane’s Blasted.