The Bridge Below the Town – Civic Theatre – Review


The Bridge below the town tells a story of small town life somewhere near the border in Ireland during the 1950’s. Golly Murray is an average house wife struggling to get by, with her husband and their one son. When things start getting too much for her, the walls come apart and reality breaks down. This tale is told through a series of memories, songs, dance sequences and other fragments of her world.

Pat McCabe, the writer of the Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto, continues to pick at the wound of small town life in Ireland. It is a world where everyone knows everyone else’s problems and there is no such thing as privacy. The characters all have their own tales, Blossom Foster can’t have a conversation without telling you about her trips to Italy. Mrs. Miniter is the housekeeper of the priest Fr. Hand, who she secretly loves. We are brought through this small community and see the complexities of their lives and loves.

The set for the play is as unusual as the proceedings. There is a large stone bridge at the back of the stagae, with twin arches underneath, and to the side is the kitchen of Golly’s house, complete with sink, fridge and table, which stands open to the bridge behind. A lot of the events happen within the mind of the various characters, and the play moves through a variety of locations in the small town.

The actors play multiple parts, other than Barbara Bergin who plays Golly. Often the actors have hardly left the stage before they re-emerge in a different costume and role. While this may seem confusing, the quick changes in garments allows the viewer to follow who each of the characters are easily enough. There are over thirteen characters played by the six actors on stage.

The play is as cracked as the world is is trying to portray. The movement is a fever pitch as the actors dash around the stage, to convey the troubled minds on display. At times it is delirious and absurd, but it is mainly played for laughs and the crazy nature of it all is held together with a smile. The music of the 50’s is prevalent and works extremely well. When we reach the conclusion, nearly two and a half hours later, we are left slightly bewildered by what has gone before, but in a good way! This is a brave and fun production of McCabe’s vision of a variety of troubled minds in small town Ireland.

The Bridge Below The Town – Main Auditorium – Civic Theatre – Tuesday, 1st – Saturday, 5th April 2014 @ 8pm

Presented by NASC in association with Livin’ Dred Theatre Company

Written by Pat McCabe

Starring: Malcolm Adams, Damien Devaney, Janet Moran, Gina Moxley, Roseanna Purcell and Catherine Walsh.

Admission: €18 & €16 concession.

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