The Shadow Of A Gunman – Abbey Theatre – Review
Donal Davoren (Mark O’Halloran) is a man of words, a poet who is staying with Seamus Shields (David Ganly) in a Dublin tenement. He has arrived to find quiet time to write but that is easier said than done in the noisy building with constant interruptions. A rumour has started that he is an IRA gunman in hiding, who is staying with Shields to avoid the reach of the law. Initially he wants nothing to do with this false notion, but after he realises that the beautiful, young Minnie Powell is captivated by it, he decides to play along. ‘What danger can there be in being the shadow of a Gunman’.
This play was written by Seán O’Casey in 1923 and is set during the Irish War of Independence. It is part of O’Casey’s ‘Dublin Trilogy’ with Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the Stars (1926).
This production takes elements from the modern age, as some of the characters appear in contemporary dress juxtaposed against those in clothes of the original setting. Director Wayne Jordan is more restrained than normal in this production, keeping his actors on stage throughout as he is well known for bringing them into the auditorium. The focus is on the acting which is of a high standard. While there is much humour in the original script, in the wrong hands this could fall flat, but works well in this instance. The action is kept at a high pace throughout as the momentum builds and there is a certain manic glee to the proceedings, with the variety of eccentric characters involved. There is a feel of a hot night in the city, where anything can happen.
At the centre of the production is the performance of Mark O’Halloran, who is on stage throughout. He plays the role of Donal Davoren with a frenzied glint in his eye and is quite captivating. A variety of characters descend onto him to distract him and keep him away form his work. Each are well drawn out with the Lolita like Minnie Powell (Amy McAllister) particularly catching the eye. David Ganly also deserves a mention for his performance as Seamus Shields, the well meaning friend of Donal. This is a fine production of the play, that brings in many modern elements while never moving away from its original setting.
Dates: 12 June – 1 August on the Abbey stage
Times: Tues – Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Wed and Sat 2pm
Wednesday matinees 24 June and 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 July.
Malcolm Adams – Mr Gallogher
Gerard Byrne – Mr Mulligan
Lloyd Cooney – Tommy Owens
Muiris Crowley – Mr Maguire
David Ganly – Seamus Shields
Dan Gordon – Adolphus Grigson
Louise Lewis – Mrs Grigson
Amy McAllister – Minnie Powell
Mark O’Halloran – Donal Davoren
Jamie O’Neill – An Auxiliary
Catherine Walsh – Mrs Henderson
Wayne Jordan – Director
Sarah Bacon – Set and Costume Designer
Sarah-Jane Shiels – Lighting Designer
Mel Mercier – Composer and Sound Designer
Maisie Lee – Assistant Director
Sue Mythen – Movement Director
Katie Davenport – Design Assistant