The Assassination of Brian Boru – New Theatre – Review

Assasination of Boru

The Assassination of Brian Boru – Review by Helen O’Leary

Runs at the New Theatre until July 12th.

This plays tells a very personal tale about a brotherly bond but it also captures a seminal event in Irish history. It charts the journey from the Isle of Mann of two Norsemen Brodir and his brother Ospak to take part in The Battle of Clontarf. The longhaired Brodir is a dark and imposing figure. Played by Andrew Kenny he is a fierce warrior and leader and enjoys the blind devotion of his followers. Brodir is power hungry and is travelling to Ireland on the promise of a throne.

Brodir dabbles in the dark arts of sorcery and his journey across the Irish Sea is fraught with ominous signs. Vicious pecking ravens descend from the skies and swords wielded by invisible arms slash at his men. Brodir chooses to ignore these omens while Ospak (played by Daithi Mac Suibhne), a more compassionate and cautious leader, is convinced the expedition to Ireland is doomed. This is an intense piece of theatre, propelled along at full throttle by the writing of Lauren Shannon Jones. Great credit is due to the two actors, for maintaining the tempo without falter throughout the play that lasts for over an hour. The encounters between the brothers often begin with boyhood reminiscing and invariably descend into conflict. There is little respite from the constant sparring with both words and swords. Although the brothers clash with each other in personality and beliefs their bond is never truly severed despite taking opposite sides in the Battle.

At Clontarf the men take to the battlefield without the High King Brian Boru who is unwilling to fight on Good Friday because of his Christian beliefs. Boru’s forces are victorious yet the high king himself is assassinated in his tent as the Norsemen flee. There are numerous accounts in the history books of how exactly Brian Boru met his end. On stage Brodir offers us several versions of the legend but the truth will never be known. The last words uttered by Brodir on stage are that he would like to be remembered in stories. That has surely come to pass and he is vividly brought to life in this version of the story.

Written by Lauren Shannon Jones

Directed by Nora Kelly Lester. Produced by Anthony Fox

Running at the New Theatre, Templebar until 12th July

Assassination of Brian Boru

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