The Mariner – Review by Emily Elphinstone
Set in rural Cork, The Mariner tells the story of Royal Navy sailor Peter Shanley (Sam O’Mahony), as he returns home following the WWI Battle of Jutland in the North Sea. Far from being a war hero, Peter is delivered to his family with a heavily bandaged head; shellshock, which has left him nearly mute; and dismissal from the Navy under unknown circumstances.
However, the real war starts at home. Not only is there tension from the community toward Irishmen fighting in WWI; but there is conflict in his family, with young wife Sally (Lisa Dwyer Hogg) and his rather overbearing mother (Ingrid Craigie) clashing over whether this really is the man they love. It’s a brilliant premise, and writer Hugo Hamilton shares just enough detail, while maintaining the sense of mystery which allows the audience to question events as much as the central characters. There are some well crafted lines, including a debate of how ‘nobody has the feet they went away with’; but in places this is so deliberately phrased and competently performed, that there is too much sense of the script behind the characters’ words.
The Gate Theatre is well known for its high production values; and The Mariner doesn’t disappoint. Joe Vanek’s wonderfully atmospheric set evokes the bowels of a naval vessel, which is complimented by the well phrased lighting of Sinead McKenna; and composer Denis Clohessy’s brilliantly paired back score builds atmosphere without overpowering the story. However, though all the elements of the play are of a high quality, and well balanced by director Patrick Mason; The Mariner somehow lacks the emotional punch that should be so prevalent, and ultimately falls short of expectations.
The Mariner runs in The Gate Theatre until October 25th
Director Patrick Mason
Set Design Joe Vanek
Costume Design Joan O’Clery
Lighting Design Sinead McKenna
Sound and Music Design Denis Clohessy
Cast (in alphabetical order)
Mrs Shanley – Ingrid Craigie
Sally – Lisa Dwyer Hogg
Peter – Sam O’Mahony