A Fit Wife for a Revolutionary – Smock Alley – Review


Caption: Sharon Sexton as Mrs Kathleen Clarke, in ‘A Fit Wife For A Revolutionary’, part of the double bill performance ‘Unshakeable Spirits’ Photo Credit: Tony Faulkner

A Fit Wife for a Revolutionary – Smock Alley – Review by Frank L.

Written and Performed by Sharon Sexton
Original score by Ivan McKenna.

22 Nov – 3 Dec | Boys School

As part of a Double Bill with Left Hand Lost

Sharon Sexton takes the week leading up to Easter 1916 to tell the story of Kathleen Clarke (nee Daly) whose husband was the first signatory to the proclamation. The story finishes with Kilmainham gaol and his execution on 3rd May 1916. It is a short period of time. Sexton refers in her storytelling to some events which occurred prior to this period, namely Kathleen’s own childhood in Limerick and the national credentials of some members of her family. However, although alluded to, she does not make explicit his American connection, that they married in New York City in 1901 nor the fact that he was twenty years her senior. The story telling concentrates on a period of approximately ten days. However in concentrating on that comparatively short period of her life Sexton has diminished Kathleen’s own contribution to Ireland. While she held her husband in the highest esteem and maybe even in awe she was no stay-at-home housewife. She had a career in politics in the newly formed state with very definite views of her own. She remained her own woman.

Sexton is correct to highlight the life of Kathleen Clarke. From contemporary photographs, she bears facially a good resemblance to Clarke. She tells the story of those ten epoch-making days with a fine attention to detail and is quite commanding in the part. But unless viewer was knowledgeable about the life of Thomas Clarke and Kathleen, there is a sense of having arrived a little late to the telling of the story. Their past is largely missing. That said the role of Kathleen Clarke in relation to Ireland is worth telling. The focus on this short period of time allows the production to capture the frenzy and confusion of the days leading up to the rising.


Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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