The Chastitute – Gaiety Theatre – Review
until 20 May 2017
John Bosco McLaine (Stephen Brennan) is a fifty three year old man who has never known the gentle embrace of a woman. It is not for want of trying, he has had many dates over the years and all have ended in disaster. Either he has come on too strong or not strong enough! He lives with his elderly Aunt (Maria McDermottroe) and seems lonely but content. That is until his Aunt tells him the surprising news that she is getting married! She will leave the house and he will be left alone. This news spurs him on to finally find a woman to call his own. He employs various means to achieve this goal, including a local matchmaker (Brendan Conroy) and the smooth-talking lothario Sylvester (John Olohan), as the wheels are slowly set in motion.
The Chastitute was written by John B Keane in 1981, although set sometime before that. Keane was a proud Kerryman and is best known for the Field, Sive and Big Maggie. This work would fall into the more gentle end of his repertoire and is a light hearted comedy for the most part, although it does have elements of social satire.
Stephen Brennan is the centre of the production. On the face of it, he is cast against type, as he is not the first name you would think of for the role of a Kerry farmer. It is a delicate performance, showing him as a warm and playful character, but desperately shy in the presence of women. He gives the audience every reason to empathise with the coy, humble man. It would be hard not to root for him in his search for love. Brendan Conroy is enjoyable as the local matchmaker but John Olohan steals many scenes as the womaniser Sylvester.
The play does feel quite safe and even dated. It would be interesting to see what the millennials would make of it, and certainly it would seem like another world to them. Gone are the days of Catholic repression and guilt, to be replaced by Youtube and Tinder! But for all that, the message at the end of the play is resoundingly modern. In his own way, Keane waged a war against the Ireland he saw around him and much of his ire was against the Catholic church and the power it had over our society. It’s a trip back to an Ireland that no longer exists but is not quite forgotten.
Starring: Stephen Brennan as John Bosco McLaine
Catherine Byrne (Fair City), Sorcha Furlong (Fair City), Aisling O’Neill (Fair City)
Brendan Conroy, Andrew Kenny, Maria McDermottroe, Caoimhe Mulcahy, John Olohan, Mark O’Regan, Joe Rooney, Billie Traynor.
Directed by Michael Scott