The Boys tells the story of Michael Connor, a young man who is struggling to stay on the right side of the law and his family. Michael is a member of the traveling community, and when his Grandmother dies, a feud between his family and the McCauleys reopens. This father Don commits a crime and lets his son take the blame. When Anthony and Michael, uncle and nephew end up in a young offenders institution, Michael is offered a chance at redemption when a teacher that takes an interest in him, but is it possible for him to escape his past?
This is a well crafted and staged play, that aims to give life to the complex character of Michael Connor. From the early scenes at the funeral of the grandmother, with fourteen cast members on the small stage of the New Theatre including a four piece band, we realise that this is an ambitious production that is trying to achieve something. The traditional music and singing in the early scenes works well to create the mood of a large Irish funeral. As the story progresses, the plot focuses on Michael and his nephew Anthony, (who are in or around the same age) and their battle against the authorities in an institution.
The story deals with many difficult issues such as prejudice against travelers and child abuse. It may have been better to reduce the scope of the story and to develop a smaller number of themes to a greater degree, as it aimed to achieve too much. There are many positives though, in the performances of the young cast, and the attempt to give depth and substance to a member of the traveling community, who are often marginalised in modern day Ireland.
The Boys by Gerard Humphreys
Directed by Patrick Joseph Byrnes
At the New Theatre, from Sep 23rd – Sep 28th
Tickets: €15/12 (conc.)
Cast: Michael Collins, Seamus Moran, Barry Morgan, Conall Keating, Kate Gilmore, Roisin O’Neill, Paschal Scott, David O’Meara, Patrick Cusack and Padraig Murray.
Photos by Al Craig