ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
The Man From Clare
Although set in rural Ireland in 1962, the robust portrait of an athlete losing his edge is timeless and late playwright John B. Keane's sensitivity and lyricism give fresh life to the term romantic comedy. Director Sean Branney has a painter's eye for blocking on the tiny stage used by Theatre Banshee and a feel for both the bombast and defensiveness of his characters.
Padraic is the star of the football team coached by his uncle Daigan who raised him but at 35 Padraic's legs are giving out and the team loses The Big Match by one point. The Man From Clare takes place after the defeat in the modest home of Morisheen and his daughter Nellie who put Padraic and Daigan up for the night. Morisheen has an ulterior motive. He's dying to get Nellie, an ex-nun, married off so he can marry again. Padraic and Nellie are horrified and embarrassed by his heavy-handed matchmaking, which is excorciated by Daigan. After having his nephew to himself all these years and molding him into the football player he could never be, he's not about to lose him to a woman he insults in the most blistering terms.
Further insults occur when the team's new star player, young Jim, turns up with a rude young girl, Elsie, who likes nothing better than giving people a piece of her mind. "A piece of nothing is worth nothing," Morisheen tells her tartly. But it's Padraic's reproaches that inflame Jim to the point of challenging him to a fight or perhaps, heady with victory, he seizes the chance to vaunt his physical prowess.
The male rituals of youthful supremacy are vividly depicted by Keane and their emotional validity is chilling. It's incredible that Padraic and Nellie, who have known each other for 10 minutes, can reach a happy ending but Keane pulls it off with the help of an exceptional cast.
Rebecca Marcotte's remarkable facial expressions depict Nellie's repression and anxiety without losing her gentleness. Dan Harper plays a stolid Padraic with a quiet understated integrity. Barry Lynch is an exuberant life force as the wily roguish Morisheen and Josie DiVincenzo makes his feisty younger daughter Brid a chip off the auld block. Andrew Leman masters the difficult task of making a sympathetic character out of Daigan, both as the authoritative coach and the despairing possessive uncle who doesn't want to lose the nephew who has been his reason for living. Josh Thoemke is a fiery young Jim whose head is completely turned by his victory.
Mary O'Sullivan's excellent lighting design shadows the prologue in front of the curtain in which the football team has a pep rally and sings its Clare Fight Song in beautiful harmony. Modest pin-point accurate costumes are designed by Laura Brody.
The realistic Irish cottage by Arthur MacBride displays photographs of the Pope and President Kennedy of equal size and side by side. That is the only element that dates the play.
Theatre Banshee, which celebrates its Tenth Anniversary next season, is a group to watch.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co. >Click image to buy.
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.