Theatre

Druid – Colleen Bawn – Gaiety Theatre – Review

Colleen Bawn

A once wealthy family faces financial ruin as their debts continue to mount and payment is due. The only thing that can save them from losing their estate is the marriage of the only son Hardress Cregan to his cousin, Anne Chute. There’s one small problem, Hardress has lost his heart to another! It’s openings such as these that create great situation comedies, and this is just that. Although the play was first performed over a 150 years ago, this has lost none of its bite and there are many good one liners.

Marty Rea takes his perennial role as fop/ toff and plays Hardress, the son of the family on the brink of ruin, but this character is a little more complex as he has fallen for a beautiful young peasant woman, the Colleen Bawn. She cannot speak (spake) properly, but she is pure of heart and very beautiful. He steals over to her house across the lake at night to meet up with the woman he loves, and who he has secretly married. When his mother informs him he must wed his cousin or else face bankruptcy, much high jinx follow.

This is not normally the type of theatre I enjoy, so certain prejudices had to broken down before I could admit to myself that I was enjoying it. It took me a while, but once you start laughing, it just keeps flowing. There are some great performances with Aisling O’Sullivan as the wealthy heiress Anne Chute playing a wonderfully over the top member of the ‘horsey set’. Rory Nolan is always larger than life and is perfect for a part such as this. He delights in playing Myles na Coppaleen, the poitin brewer and horse poacher, who has lost his heart to the Colleen Bawn.

While I would normally associate Druid with productions that are more serious in tone, and even the cast bears some striking similarities to the Druid Murphy series, Garry Hynes proves she can provide the lightness of touch to let this production fly. Colleen Bawn started in Galway just before Christmas, so was part of panto season, and it is played mostly for laughs, but it shows great invention and the pace is just right.

Druid’s production of ‘Colleen Bawn‘ runs at the Gaiety Theatre until January 25th.

Cast including: Marie Mullen, Maeliosa Stafford, Aaron Monaghan, Rory Nolan, Marty Rea, John Olohan and Aisling O’Sullivan

Directed by Garry Hynes

Designed by Francis O’Connor

Lighting by Ben Ormerod

Sound Design by Gregory Clarke

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Categories: Theatre, Theatre Review

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