Belfast Telegraph

O'Casey classic The Shadow of a Gunman is as relevant today

Lyric Theatre, Belfast

By Grania McFadden

The works of Sean O'Casey, while firmly anchored in the Dublin of the 1920s, have a knack, nevertheless, of speaking to the here and now.

This is never more evident than when, in Wayne Jordan's production, a young Tommy Owens appears in tracksuit bottoms and polo shirt, eager to meet the man rumoured to be a gunman on the run. This young rebel desperate to join a cause would seem equally at home on the streets of Belfast today as he did in the Dublin of yesteryear.

Designer Sarah Bacon uses the costumes to criss-cross the years: Seamus Shields tugs at his greying combinations, while poet Donal Davoren, the 'gunman', is dapper in a modern-day suit and brogues. A play of yesterday becomes a drama for today.

Mark O'Halloran's performance as melodramatic Davoren is initially at odds with the realism of wastrel Seamus Shields (excellent David Ganly), but the pair hit their stride, and the pace picks up with Minne Powell, the (very) young woman (played in sundress and ankle socks by Amy McAllister) who has fallen for Davoren.

Comic turns from Dan Gordon as boozy, boorish Orangeman Adolphus Grigson and Catherine Walsh as no-nonsense Mrs Henderson provide light relief. The drama packs a punch in its final scene, as O'Casey reminds us "it's the civilians who suffer".

Three stars

Belfast Telegraph


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