Madame de Markievicz on Trial – New Theatre – Review

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Madame de Markievicz on Trial – by Ann Matthews – The New Theatre – Apr 20th – May 2nd @ 7.30pm

Madame de Markievicz was an unusual figure. She was born Constance Georgine Gore-Booth and lived in Lissadell House in the north of County Sligo. She later rejected her Anglo Irish upbringing and became involved in nationalist politics and the 1916 rising. During the rising she was appointed second in command to Michael Mallin in St Stephen’s Green. She was involved in the murder of Police Constable Lahiff , a 23 year old man from Clare who was unarmed at the time of the attack. This play sets out to dramatise the events of her trial for the murder of the Police Constable.

The set is a court room with the Prosecutor, William May, calling a series of witnesses to the stand to discuss Madame de Markievicz and what they knew of her involvement in the crime. Madame de Markievicz stays strong and refuses to acknowledge the power of the court over her, as she sees her actions as part of an ongoing war.

Barbara Dempsey plays de Markievicz as a woman sure of her own importance, who commands the room with her steely gaze and imposing voice. She regularly talks directly to the audience to inform us who each witnesses is and their role in the proceedings. Neil Fleming plays the booming prosecutor who strides across the stage to interrogate each witness. There are seven members of the cast, with Dempsey and Fleming on stage at all times, while the other five members make their brief appearance in the box.

Ann Matthews has done a fine job of converting the facts into a more palatable form and dramatising the slow moving court case. Matthews is lecturer in Maynooth NUI and previously wrote the Lockout which was performed at the New Theatre in 2013. This play continues her exploration of the period and feeds in nicely to the centenary celebrations of the Rising next year. It sets out to explore the legend surrounding de Markievicz, as she was known as an expert marksman and that she gave up a life of luxury to join the rebellion, neither of which were true. The play examines her complex relationship with Ireland and her actual role in the rebellion. It is an informative and entertaining play that has the impressive performances of Fleming and Dempsey at its core.

Madame de Markievicz on Trial

Directed by Anthony Fox

Lighting Design by Cathy O’Carroll

Set Design by Martin Cahill

Sound Design by Shane Fitzmaurice

Costume Design Jessica Dunne

Stage Management by Céin Sookram


Barbara Dempsey

Neill Fleming

Andrea Kelly

Amy O’Dwyer

Ian Meehan

Síofra O’Meara

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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