Festivals

Brigit – Olympia Theatre – Dublin Theatre Festival Review

Brigit_Bailegangaire

Brigit – Dublin Theatre Festival – Until Oct 5th

Seamus has had a turbulent relationship with the Catholic Church, in the past he feels he was swindled out of payment for his carpentry work in the local chapel. Seamus is a good man to hold a grudge and since this conflict he has boycotted the local church. His wife Mammo doesn’t share his resentment and she herds their three grandchildren across the fields to Sunday mass unbeknownst to Seamus.

New work from the church comes Seamus’s way. The local nuns want a statue made of St. Brigit and Seamus is approached about the commission. He is reluctant at first but also intrigued by the task. Seamus becomes obsessed with not just sculpting a statue but like a true artist capturing the essence of the saint and goddess. He takes a beautiful old piece of old bog oak and over the course of the play, as the legend of St. Bridget is retold, gradually a beautiful statue emerges. Unfortunately the nuns aren’t as appreciative of his artwork crafted from ancient and indigenous materials.

In the background to all this is the strained relationship between Seamus and his wife. There is the minimal open conflict but plenty watchful, observing silences between the pair. These scenes are beautifully played out by Marie Mullen as Mammo and Bosco as Seamus. Their three adored grandchildren are orphans and thread carefully in this uneasy household.

The stage is set to resemble the kitchen of a small farmhouse; the open hearth with its crane and old pots for cooking, and simple wooden furniture. In this rural setting we are constantly reminded how pagan and catholic Ireland coexisted so closely for centuries. Mammo trails around the house incanting prayers to the Virgin Mary while at the kitchen table Seamus goes hammer and tongs at his statue of the Irish saint who was also a pagan goddess.

‘Brigit’ was originally written in the eighties as a television play and was reworked by Murphy for the stage just last year. This staging by Druid is its first. It is a simple play in structure and story but complicated and darkened by the discontent of human relations and the artistic temperament of Seamus who strives for perfection in an imperfect world.

As it proceeds the events of Bailegangaire by thirty years, Brigit can be seen as a companion piece or prequel. It sets the scene and informs us on the characters in Bailegangaire however it is a different and lighter play in tone, language and humour. It could be in danger of fading slightly in the shadow of the more powerful Bailegangaire . On it’s own it is very compelling and stands very well on it’s own two feet.

Brigit – Dublin Theatre Festival – Until Oct 5th

Credits:

Séamus – Bosco Hogan
Mommo – Marie Mullen
Father Kilgariff – Marty Rea
Reverend Mother – Jane Brennan
A Young Nun – Rachel O’Byrne
Mary – Sarah Conway
Dolly – Susie Power
Tom – Joshua Lyons

Writer Tom Murphy
Director Garry Hynes
Set & Costume Francis O’Connor
Lighting Designer Rick Fisher
Sound Designer Gregory Clarke

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