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THEATRE REVIEW: FTN reviews The Colleen Bawn at The Grand Opera House, Belfast

January 31st, 2014 by Big Phil Comments

The Colleen Bawn
The Grand Opera House, Belfast

A suspense-filled tale of tangled love, misplaced honour and downright skullduggery.

Fresh from their national and international success with Druid Murphy, Tony award-winning Druid present a new production of Dion Boucicault’s Thrilling drama, The Colleen Bawn. Will the course of true love run smooth when those around you will stop at nothing to make sure you marry the right woman?

Director Garry Hynes has assembled a cast of some of Ireland’s leading actors together with live musicians to ensure that this Colleen Bawn will be a source of mirth and edge-of-the-seat drama.

The Colleen Bawn, inspired by a real-life incident, is the tragic love story of Hardress Cregan; a man deeply in love with local girl Eily O’Connor, but also betrothed to another, Anne Chute. Hardress not only has his heart to hold together, but also his estate as the mortgage is due on his home and land.

Knowing that, if he turns down Anne Chute and her much need dowry, he will not only break Anne’s heart, but also leave him and his mother without their home as he has no other way to pay the monies owed. Things take a sudden turn for the worst when his close friend and confidant, Danny Mann, offers to solve Hardress’s problems. This solution could have dire consequences, not only for Hardress and his mother, but far more importantly for Eily…

This was a clever little play that was first performed in 1860, and it has lost none of its charm or meaning. The script is full of drama and touching sentimentality, punctuated by local dialect. The humour is also quite evident and is still as funny now as when first performed.

The characters of this piece are full of charm, chivalry, loyalty and, at times, darn right dastardliness. The performers really bring this play to life, with the main part of Hardress played by Marty Rea, who carries the play with ease. Notable highlights are Myles, the country rogue and likeable poacher come whiskey maker, portrayed by Rory Nolan. Also noteworthy is the performance of Aisling O’Sullivan, who portrays the effluent and grand Anne Chute with a charm that has the audience eating out of her hand.

The set décor was functional and detailed, in that it never really changed. It provided the scenes for the lake, the manor homes, an old cottage and even a whiskey cave. What was inspiring was the magnificently painted backdrop that provided the blue skies with billowing clouds that instantly set the scene of the open country landscape.

This was a brilliantly performed play, which, thankfully, had a script that hasn’t been updated from its original writing; one that will have your heart filled with romantic gestures and laughter.

4 out of 5 Nerds





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I arrived on Earth in 1977 and have virtually devoted my entire existence to cult films, television programmes and cartoons. I am a very big fan of Star Wars and Star Trek; I may struggle with foreign languages but I can order live Gagh in Klingon! I’m the Nerd that knows the trivia but I’m hopeless at sport!

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