The Wise Wound – Smock Alley – Review by Frank L.
Written by Teri FitzGerald directed by Philip Doherty
Tue 22nd March – 2nd April in The Main Space
This is a mad cap musical comedy which brings back to prominence Louisa M. Allcott’s “Little Women” with the principal roles being that of Amy March (Teri FitzGerald), Beth March (Megan O’Flynn), Jo March (Clodagh Mooney Duggan) and Meg March (Ashleigh Dorrell). Beth is an invalid who sits, looking ghastly, sprawled in a wheelchair in an uncomfortable posture as the audience assembles. Her odd loud coughs suitably timed, tuberculosis it transpires, disconcerts the house announcer as she tries to give the usual announcements before the performance even begins.
The events depicted take place at some time in the middle of the nineteenth century. There is a chorus, primarily of women, who have unashamedly feminist views of the more extreme type. For example they sing the word “castration” with a sense of glee in an early ensemble. Therefore their certainties are thrown into confusion when Meg decides to marry the son of the local big shot corrupt politician one, John Brooke. The plot is all about how to prevent the wedding taking place. The principal plotter is Amy. As Amy, Teri FitzGerald has a field day as she is an actor who is blessed with excellent comic timing coupled with terrific physical skills such as doing handstands while attired in an awkward enough mid-nineteenth century dress or running across the stage in a highly stylised manner as if she was playing a man dressed as a woman as in Charley’s Aunt. Her performance is a delight.
Megan O’Flynn’s performance is exceptional as she is confined to a wheelchair at all times! She croaks and groans to great comic effect as well as suffering the indignity of being slapped hard across the face (not politically correct) by one of the feminist chorus members when she fails to wake up when required. Meg has a tricky role to play as her feminist credentials have been compromised so far as the sisterhood is concerned having become engaged to marry a man. However with considerable aplomb Ashleigh Dorrell keeps in harness these fractious opposites as she suffers a series of setbacks to her wedding plans. Meanwhile Clodagh Mooney Duggan has the difficult task of making Jo, who is a bit of a bore, interesting. She is bound to be overshadowed by the dotty antics of the other three sisters as not all of them can be madcaps all of the time. Jo provides solid ballast. The four together sisters in their splendid diversity generate a great deal of uproarious laughter in the audience which is well deserved as the script is at all times crisp.
Because militant feminism of a type is on display, there is a visual shock when on stage as part of the prenuptials an African American male (Daryl McCormack) emerges from a box shackled and bewigged with a monstrous fuzzy, black wig. There is a sense of affront at such a depiction. It soon becomes clear however that Jo and her feminist Caucasian sisters are far more in need of re-education in matters of political correctness than the much more savvy African American ”slave”… a fine example of it being wise to wait a little bit before rushing to condemnation. In fact he is the only man in the cast with a part of much substance, the other four male actors have subsidiary roles and that of course includes the intended husband John Brooke… the sisterhood is indeed in the ascendant.
There are several choral songs with catchy tunes written by Peter Denton and lyrics written yet again by Teri FitzGerald. They provide background information to the plot and keep the story travelling along at a merry pace.
The battiness of it all lasts about an hour and a half with no interval and was met at its conclusion by genuine joyous applause. A world of mirth had been created and the result was happy faces leaving the theatre. It is a show that deserves a great deal more airing.
Cast: Ashleigh Dorrell, Clodagh Mooney Duggan, Teri FitzGerald, Megan O’Flynn Aislinn O’Byrne, Aoibheann McCann, Christopher McCormack, Daryl McCormack, Dave Rowe, India Mullen, John Doran, Louise O’Meara, Polly Lloyd, Shane O’Regan
Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review
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