Beezie – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review by Frank L
Written by David and Sheila Flitton
Beezie (Sheila Flitton) lived her life alone on a small island in Lough Gill, County Sligo which W.B. Yeats had made universally famous with his poem “The Lake Isle of Inisfree”. She was, in real life, almost an exact contemporary of the poet. However, notwithstanding his subsequent fame she treats him as if he was another occasional visitor to her island as she reveals the observations of her life. In the opening part of the play, the language used reeks of J.M. Synge which is intensified by the traditional skirt and shawl worn by Beezie. It exudes an ambience of a play plucked from the Celtic Revival at the beginning of the twentieth century.
However, as the story moves into the mid twentieth century its tone leaves the early part of the century and becomes very different by the time of the fierce winter of 1947 and its effect on Beezie and on her island. The story that is then revealed is nothing to do “with nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee”.
Flitton first played the role in 1984 and has played it many times since. However, she now plays it at an age similar to that of Beezie at the end of her life. From the beginning, as she sits in profile looking stage left, she is a true “ Bean an tí” in command of her island home and of everything else that is in sight. While the initial part of the story is to a degree nostalgic, the finale deals wittily and determinedly with a confluence of issues that are increasingly important in the twenty first century, namely the entitlement of an elderly person to be listened to as he or she make decisions in relation to their everyday life. Flitton has a clear voice and an upright stance which lend force to the message that Beezie is conveying.
Beezie does not wish to be molly coddled. She wants to live. She gets her message across and it is a privilege to be in the audience to hear her make her case so eloquently regardless of the consequences for her.