The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – Smock Alley – Review
22 – 26 Jan | 8pm | plus 2:30pm on 26 Jan | Boys’ School
This play is set in the wild west, at a time where a gun solved most problems. Ransome Foster (Dave Curran) is a scholar. He has travelled from New York city to the small town of Twotrees, but along the road he meets trouble in the form of the outlaw Liberty Valance. He arrives in Twotrees bruised and battered and lucky to be alive! Bert Barricune (Shane Robinson) found him on the prairie where he was left for dead and brought him to a saloon owned by Hallie Jackson (Sorcha Herlihy). She is not the most warm of individuals but tends to his wounds none the less. Ransome sees something in Hallie and decides to stay in Twotrees, but he will inevitably have to face off with Liberty Valance once more, and this time, only one will survive!
If the name sounds a little familiar, this is also a 1962 film directed by John Ford starring James Stewart and John Wayne. This version is written by British playwright Jethro Compton and premièred in the Park Theatre in London in 2014. This production is by No Drama theatre company and is quite ambitious despite the small space in which it is performed, with an 11 member cast.
The play is set in the saloon throughout and the Boy’s school in Smock Alley is easily converted with its ancient brick wall and wooden stairs. There is a bar at one side of the stage and some tables and chairs scattered around the small space. They also have a collection of items from the era including wagon wheels and barrels, which add to the ambience.
With a cast of this size, it is inevitable that the acting talents will be mixed with accents slipping on occasion, but the stand out performer was Sorcha Herlihy as Hallie Jackson. Her no-nonsense portrayal of the saloon keeper was very entertaining. This is one of the more unusual productions you’ll see on stage this year. The American West is rarely depicted in the theatre and there are issues with recreating gun fights on stage which are not easily solved, but this is mainly a love story in unusual circumstances. Hallie has a choice between the gentleman Ransome and the wild man Bert, as the two compete for her affection! At just about two and a half hours (including an interval) it may have been helped by some editing, but it is a lively and inventive production.
WRITTEN BY: Jethro Compton By arrangement with Samuel French
Dave Curran as Ransome Foster
Sorcha Herlihy as Hallie Jackson
Shane Robinson as Bert Barricune
Theo Dennisson as Liberty Valance
Edward Dixon as Jim ‘The Reverend’ Moston
Martin Casey as Marshal Johnson
Sarah Lenihan as Jane Dewitt
Annette Burns as The Narrator
Assistant directed by Malcolm Bolton
With original soundtrack by Martin Casey
DIRECTED BY: Declan Ryan, Malcolm Bolton
SET DESIGN BY: Louise Dunne
COSTUME DESIGN BY: Sara Ben-Abdallah
Production Manager: Renée van de Schoor
Producer: Louise Dunne, Elaine Carroll
Soundtrack: Martin Casey