Gonne – New Theatre – Review by Frank L
28th May – 8th June @ 7:30pm (+ Sat Matinees @ 2:30pm on June 1st & 8th)
This piece takes an irreverent look at the world of the Celtic revival. As the title indicates, the play centres on Maud Gonne (Kiah Ronaldson) and it is her views which predominate. Of course, Yeats (Simon Geaney), who likes to call himself ‘W.B. Yeats’, does try to hog some of the limelight, but Gonne is not to be denied. She has several gripes, the main one being that her public persona has been formed through Yeats’ poetry and that it was her many rejections of his marriage proposals that made him a great poet. Sure enough, Yeats cannot avoid reciting one or two of the well known poems.
Lady Gregory (Aoibhin Murphy) has a similar gripe, in that she resents the way she is imagined by the public due to the several well known portraits of her. Murphy is not at all like any of those portraits as she is considerably younger, carries less weight and her face often breaks into a broad smile. You cannot imagine any of the portraits behaving with Murphy’s exuberance. Murphy also plays a puppeteer as she makes use of a broom to represent Sean MacBride, Gonne’s husband. This unlikely device works well and adds greatly to the comedy of the scenes between Gonne and MacBride.
The story traverses chronologically and with speed the interconnection of these lives. It is all told from Gonne’s perspective so Gregory and Yeats get a fair deal of stick. The flaw in the production was the need of Ronaldson to correct or repeat the pronunciation of a word while Geaney found it challenging to be consistent with his imitation of Yeats’ voice. But these were minor matters and may well be ironed out as the production continues.
Gonne is a lovely spoof on individuals who are often spoken about in hushed tones, particularly in academic and literary circles. It was a breath of fresh air and it deservedly raised a great deal of laughter from the audience.
Writer – Annie Keegan
Director – Gráinne Holmes Blumenthal
Producer – Joe Murphy
Designer – Laura McDonagh
Lighting Designer – Colin Doran
Dramaturg – Pamela McQueen
Kiah Ronaldson- Gonne
Simon Geaney – Yeats
Aoibhin Murphy – Lady Gregory