Drama at Inish – Abbey Theatre – Review
21 November – 24 January 2020
Photo by Ros Kavanagh
John Twohig (Mark O’Regan) owns the local hotel in Inish as well as the Pavilion theatre. He along with his wife Annie (Helen Norton) have invited a theatre company into their small community. Hector De la Mare (Nick Dunning) and his wife and co-star Constance Constantia (Marion O’Dwyer) arrived to perform the great Russian plays, the ones that stir the souls of the men and women who see them. Inish is a sleepy holiday destination that is rarely mentioned in the press but recently it has been making waves. Could there be a link between this change and the arrival of the De la Mare Repertory Theatre Company?
The writer of Drama at Inish, Lennox Robinson, was born in Cork in 1886. He is known for work such as The Whiteheaded Boy (1916) and The Big House (1926). Drama at Inish was first staged in the Abbey in 1933. This new production has moved the action to 1960’s Ireland. It is a farce that tells the story of the inhabitants of this small Irish seaside town.
The director of this production, Cal McCrystal, was born in Belfast in 1959. He directed ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ at the National Theatre in London in 2011. James Corden was the lead actor of this production and it was a huge success, earning rave reviews and seven Tony Award nominations. McCrystal is known for his work with comedies, so is the perfect choice for this production.
The play is set in the drawing-room of the hotel. It is where the actors rehearse and the various lives and loves of our characters are played out. Sarah Bacon is responsible for this set, and it is suitably opulent with its hardwood finishes and furniture. The large gable window allows the audience to see the characters as they come and go from the hotel, along with various visual gags, such as the local TD Peter Hurley (Marcus Lamb) repeatedly losing his hat!
While the play itself has nothing to do with Christmas, it does have a wide-ranging appeal that suits an audience of all ages. No one expects anything too challenging at this time of year! The play is now 86 years old and as you would expect feels a little dated at times. It’s a simple comedy played for laughs but the cast are generally impressive. Marion O’Dwyer does well as Constance Constantia, the actress who is a little too fond of whisky and Nick Dunning is suitably pompous as the great actor, Hector De la Mare. The performance of Helen Norton is another highlight, with her all action Annie Twohig, along with her various costumes! As long as you’re not expecting anything too sophisticated, you should be happy with this giddy and light-hearted affair.
Helena: Grace Collender
Tom Mooney: Jim Cunningham
Hector De la Mare: Nick Dunning
Eddie Twohig: Tommy Harris
Christine Lambert: Breffni Holahan
Peter Hurley: Marcus Lamb
Lizzie Twohig: Aoibhinn McGinnity
William Slattery: Anthony Moriarty
Annie Twohig: Helen Norton
Constance Constantia: Marion O’Dwyer
John Twohig: Mark O’Regan
Michael: Ian O’Reilly
John Hegarty: Kevin Trainor
Writer: Lennox Robinson
Director: Cal McCrystal
Set & Costume Design: Sarah Bacon
Lighting Design: Sinead McKenna
Sound Design: Carl Kennedy
Voice Director: Andrea Ainsworth
Choreographer: Eddie Kay
Casting: Maureen Hughes and Sarah Jones