The Chief: High stakes in the vivid retelling of Michael Collins’ big decisions

Galway’s Decay Theater has traditionally produced hit plays and, in more recent times, adaptations of novels. Jimmy Murphy’s original play on Michael Collins, a historical play as part of the centennial, was a departure of sorts.

ct 1 scrutinizes the decision-making process in 1922, which led to Free State troops besieging the Four Courts where anti-treaty republicans were held, a time when divisions in the Nationalist movement turned into the Civil War.

Ryan Donaldson makes a vibrant Collins; he brings this iconic character to life as a playful charmer. He, like Collins, is very tall; his head is four or five inches higher than the other actors. Act 1 ends with a coup, where a replica of the 18-pounder field gun used in the battle shoots out into the audience – the best moment in the play.

In Act 2, the chaotic Civil War broke out and Collins was dodging assassination plots while planning his wedding. He was arming irregulars in the North while trying to unify the republican movement in the South. Bloody executions were carried out on both sides. The stakes are high and director Andrew Flynn makes for very tense moments, but with too much shouting at times. Maeve Fitzgerald brings a spark of intelligence to Kitty Kiernan, Collins’ fiancée; Liam Heslin as foot soldier Kelly, a veteran of the European wars, does a convincing job as a Dub who simply wants to provide for his seven children.

Éamon De Valera is an off-stage presence throughout; we hear the dub for his infamous “wading through Irish blood” speech. It’s hard to tell this story without creating something of a villain from Dev. Murphy clung to the facts but was particularly emphatic: it was emphasized that Collins’ decision to encircle the Four Courts was made under the threat from Winston Churchill that British troops would come and do it for them. . The only way to avoid the Irish Civil War is to continue the old war against the British, and where will that lead?

This difficult appeal is clearly worded. History seems big on the page, but in this sober and vivid narrative, we see it as decisions made in small rooms by men with limited options.

Humor is used as a weapon against trauma

Lie Low at The Cube, Project Art Center, Dublin
Until September 17; then Naughton Studio, Lyric Theater, Belfast from September 21-24


Charlotte McCurry and Michael Patrick in Lie Low at the Dublin Fringe Festival. Ciaran Bagnall’s photo

Sexual assault has become such a common theme in Irish theater recently that one critic’s spirits fall into the prospect of another play about it. But writer Ciara Elizabeth Smyth brings a sense of combat as well as plenty of theatrical power to the subject, and this 70-minute play is a gem. It premiered as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival.

Faye (Charlotte McCurry) has trouble sleeping after a break-in and sexual assault at her home. She was afraid she would be raped and killed. The doctors were unable to do so, informed on the internet, she decided to address her fears with “exposure therapy”, having her semi-lively half-sympathetic brother Naoise (Michael Patrick) play a person. man hiding in her closet. But Naoise has her own problems, and the complexity of the story grows exponentially, with the status of the perpetrator and the victim changing like mercury on a fork.

Director Oisín Kearney injects energy into every moment and both actors are fantastic. The show is hilarious: a duck mask is used to great effect; Dance and music bring charm with a hint of irony. But despite the loud gestures and humour, the story works on a completely subtle level.

It’s clear that Faye’s unbelievable recovery becomes important. The goal of theater is to take hurt, tease it, and laugh at it. Humor is a weapon, used here with a deft theatrical touch.

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