Friday, May 6, 2016

Theatre: The Patriot Game

By Tom Murphy
Abandon Theatre Players

Directed by Ivan Motherway
STC Studio
April 27 - 30, 2016

There are times when a single, shocking event creates a chain of action and reaction, sometimes unbidden, its outcome often murky and much delayed – and the world changes.

A shot is fired outside a little Massachusetts village. A screaming child, her back ablaze, runs down a Vietnamese road. A young man stands in front of a tank in a Chinese square. A little boy’s body is lifted from the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
A century ago, a rag-tag bunch of poets, apprentice politicians and wild-eyed nationalists are put up against a wall in Ireland after a Quixotic attempt to raise their countrymen against their English overlords fell on deaf ears.
These are the paroxysms of history, the moments when the world, whether it knows it or not, begins the process of saying enough is enough.

To celebrate the centenary of the events of the Irish Easter Rising, supported by, among others, the Irish Government and Perth MHR Allanah MacTiernan, Abandon Theatre Players have revived Tom Murphy’s The Patriot Games.
The play, commissioned 50 years ago by the BBC, is a fairly straight documentary telling of the events of 1916 (in some respects a companion piece to Sean O’Casey’s more empathetic telling of the same events).
It’s given a similarly straightforward reading by director Ivan Motherway and his large amateur cast, and the cavernous performance space of the STC Studio (a somewhat ambitious venue for the production) did it few favours.
Having said that, some scenes, in particular when the citizenry of Dublin are buffeted by the conflicting entreaties of the British and the various Irish factions, were effectively staged, and the central performance or Roisin Nash as the narrator was feisty and sharply cynical.
While The Patriot Game is more revealing of the what, when, how and why of MacDonagh, Connolly, Pearse and their comrades, rather than the terrible beauty born when they faced the firing squad, it is a valuable reminder of events that changed Ireland, and much more besides, utterly.  

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