King of the Castle – Gaiety Theatre – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review

King of the Castle – Gaiety Theatre – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review

Druid, Ireland  – King of the Castle | Gaiety Theatre | Oct 11-15

The play is set on a farm in Clonhaggard, Leitrim in the late 1950s. Seán McGinley plays Scober MacAdam, a man in his fifties that has achieved much in life. He started with nothing but made his way to the top through hard work and his keen wit. He has a young wife called Tressa (Seána Kerslake) but all is not right between the two. They are married for three years and there is still no sign of a child. Some people are starting to talk about the virility of Scober and none more so than Maguire (Marty Rea).

This play was written by Eugene McCabe and first ran in 1964. It was later produced in 1989 in the Abbey with Garry Hynes directing. It should come as no surprise that now some thirty years later she has decided dust off this old work.

Although there is a large cast, there are only four characters with a significant part to play. Seán McGinley plays Scober as an intense and arrogant man, filled with his own self-importance from years of fighting his way to the top. Seána Kerslake is impressive as his wife Tressa, a woman who fell profoundly in love with Scober but now wonders at the life she has taken on. Marty Rea plays Maguire as a snide and shifty man, never missing the chance to twist the knife in Scober’s side. The final piece of the puzzle is journeyman thresher Matt Lynch (Ryan Donaldson) who gets roped into Scober’s scheme.

The set shows spinning cogs and wheels, possibly of a mill, along with a flight of stairs leading to a walkway above the stage. There are a number of locations including bars and houses, but they are created through lighting and props rather than anything more elaborate.

The play can feel dated at times and the role of women in society has changed significantly in the intervening years since this was written. It is quite an unusual tale and is set in a world with a different moral compass. It is difficult to feel compassion for any of the characters as they are all deeply flawed. The real joy in this production is in the performances. McGinley plays Scober as a complex man, and you’re never quite sure what his true intentions are. He has a temper bubbling under the surface and constantly feels on edge. While McGinley carries large sections of the play, Seána Kerslake has a number of scenes where she comes to the fore. The play gives the viewer an insight into Ireland in the 1960s and also the machinations of McCabe’s most complex creation; Scober MacAdam.


Cast and Creative
Directed by  Garry Hynes
Cast includes:  Seána Kerslake, Seán McGinley,  Peter Daly, Ryan Donaldson, Bosco Hogan, John Olohan,  Marty Rea,  Steve Blount, Anthony Moriarty, Eddie Mullarkey, Conor Quinlan, Kate Murray, Shane McCormick and Patrick Conneely
Design:  Francis O’Connor
Lighting Design:  James F. Ingalls
Movement Director:  David Bolger
Sound Design:  Greg Clarke
Composer:  Stephen McKeon

1 reply »

  1. i saw this play and it’s really no surprise why it’s never performed. It’s unbelievable in so many ways from the incongruousness of the central relationship to the lack of respect that Scober’s workers show for him. There was an am dram feel about all the needless extras doing and saying nothing and sweeping up and dragging bags about the place etc. The bloated coffers of Druid are liberally squandered on employing actors of the calibre of Bosco Hogan and Stephen Blount to deliver two lines apiece. The set is impressive in scene one but thereafter becomes a monstrous incongruity as it forms the background to every other setting public and domestic. While the lead actors are very good individually there is absolutely no chemistry between them as a couple. I could go but the bald fact is it’s a bad play and deserves it’s almost total obscurity. Garry Hynes is the most overrated director currently working in theatre. She’s been there for more than 40 yrs and should give one of the immensely talented younger generation of artists a chance. Even Shakespeare ran out of ideas and retired and from what I’ve seen of Druid over the last several yrs I don’t believe Garry has had a new inspiration in a long time. RD

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