The Hellfire Squad – Project Arts Centre – Review


The Hellfire Squad – Project Arts Centre – Review

Dates: 19 – 23 Jul 8.15pm €16/14

There is more truth to this tale than you might imagine. Michael Collins did actually assemble a team, who were called the twelve apostles, in the run up to the war of independence. Their aim was to counteract British intelligence but this new production by Devious Theatre company owes more to the work of Tarantino than any history book.

While the story does have an element of truth, this is a work of fiction which aims to create a new myth about the rebels in the years immediately after the 1916 rising. The group that are assembled are by no means perfect. They are a motley crew of scoundrels and lost souls, who somehow unite to form a team. This new production is part of the 10th anniversary of Devious Theatre company and this is one of three works the Kilkenny based company are producing this year.

The play was written by two of the cast members, Peter McGann and John Morton, with the ambition to merge the world of American films such as the Dirty Dozen and Inglourious Basterds with Irish history in a unique way. Plays about Irish history are generally quite sombre, with the various historical figures treated in reverential tones. This play lampoons many of those stories and creates something quite unusual.

The play has a complicated story arc, with a number of twists and even a traitor within the group. It is a very ambitious story to tell in a small theatre and in truth some simplification and editing would have helped the overall flow. The tale was at its best when played at a madcap pace. One of the strongest scenes in the production was a play within the play, that was performed purely for laughs and allowed the cast to show their comedic ability. John Doran impressed in his role as Finbarr McLiammoir, a stage actor who becomes part of the squad. David Fennelly was also enjoyable as the head man of the group, Tadhg McRoth, who was charged with assembling the team. The play has some very funny moments but is not without its flaws. It does however have an innovative view of the period and shows that we don’t have to treat the heroes of yesteryear with solemnity.

Written by Peter McGann and John Morton

Directed by Sarah Baxter

Produced by Ken McGuire

Performed by Stephen Colfer, John Doran, David Fennelly, Dave Fleming, Peter McGann, John Morton, Eddie Murphy, Annette O’Shea

The Devious Theatre Company – The Hellfire Squad – Project Arts Centre
18 July 2016-23 July 2016
Tickets €10 – €16


Preview: 18 Jul 8.15pm €12
Dates: 19 – 23 Jul 8.15pm €16/14
Matinee: 23 Jul 2.30pm €14



Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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