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The Watchman – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review

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The Watchman written by Sean Lawlor – Review by Frank L.

First performed at the Peacock Theatre in 1988, Dublin Theatre Company, at the direction of Anthony Fox revives this small slice of a Dublin then recently disappeared, now entering the category of almost forgotten. Ronan Wilmot has the task of breathing a new life into what was a nostalgic text in 1988 the year that Dublin Corporation decided that 1988 was the year in which Dublin was a thousand years old and that Dublin required a “millennium” celebration.

In the fifties and sixties, a night watchman was a common enough sight sitting on the pavement with a brazier of coals burning brightly in the dark as he guarded a building site which were for the most part of a far smaller scale than they are now. The watchman was a clever vehicle to use to tell about the passing of time as his job was to sit and watch the comings and goings of life throughout the night. Sean Lawlor’s watchman began his working life as a messenger boy on a bike with a big basket for Findlaters, Wilmot recounts this great success in his life with a deal of justifiable pride as Findlaters was a great grocery shop with headquarters in O’Connell St, duly referred to by James Joyce in Ulysses, and then with increasing age he becomes watchman for the Corpo. He reminisces about Dublin in the late forties to the mid-eighties, a time long past, a very different world to Dublin city as it is today.

Wilmot skilfully gives expression to the text which remains fresh and worth hearing after a quarter of a century, and while in no way succumbing to nostalgia gives it its fair due which is correct in relation to any sixty year old reminiscing about his working life. This is a little gem of a piece about Dublin emerging, albeit slowly, after the Second World war when change was beginning to take hold and slowly, oh so slowly, beginning to gather a bit of pace as the familiar was cast aside. The casualties are, of course, remembered with a fondness which may be disproportionate but it ends with what would have been a catastrophe which luckily for Dublin did not happen. People who want to know a little snippet of Dublin’s past would be well advised to visit this revival.

The Watchman written by Sean Lawlor

November 03 – 22, 2014
Time: 1pm (doors at 12.50pm)
Starring Ronan Wilmot

Directed by Anthony Fox

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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