The Battle of Kildare Place – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre (Walkabout) – Review

The Battle of Kildare Place – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre (Walkabout) – Review
by Frank L

Dates: July 06 – 16, 2022  – Time: 1pm & 3pm

Grainne (Sinead Murphy) is married and living in England with a husband and two children. She is financially secure and she and her husband are what might be called “go-ahead” and are not all that interested in buildings of a bygone age. She is staying in the nearby Shelbourne Hotel. Meadhbh (Darina Gallagher) although, also having lived in England, has happily returned to Dublin and lives in the old family home. She rides a bike of questionable age and runs a small flower shop. She is passionate about Dublin’s architectural heritage, as was their father, who spent a great deal of his time and energy attending protests and demonstrations in order to protect it. It seems his own finances were not his forte. The meeting of the two sisters gives them the opportunity to remember their perceptions of their childhoods and of their deceased father. The two sisters have quite different recollections of their early years.

The publicity for this lunchtime play contains two quotes each of which makes reference to Dublin’s Georgian architecture and the different attitudes which pertain to its retention. Kildare Place is now an open space on which trees grow but prior to 1958, it contained various historic buildings including two fine Georgian houses. The destruction of these houses led to the foundation of the current Irish Georgian Society. Given the title of the play, the fact that it was being performed in the open air in Kildare Place itself and the content of the two quotes, this reviewer thought that the piece would be concentrated on how Kildare Place lost its Georgian architecture. This thought was further substantiated by the fact that Michael James Ford’s previous play Bloody Phoenix (also a Bewley’s Walkabout) benefitted greatly from being performed in the Phoenix Park where the historic events it portrayed actually happened. Notwithstanding its name, the Battle of Kildare Place could be just as well performed in an internal theatrical space with a title that was closer to its substance.

There is little now of architectural merit in Kildare Place other than the fine side entrance of the National Museum which is uplifting to observe at leisure. The sibling rivalry and jealousies of the two sisters are played out effectively by Murphy and Gallagher and they maintain a fine competitive edge from the start.

Duration – 45 minutes

The Battle of Kildare Place – written by Emma Gilleece and Michael James Ford

Darina Gallagher – Meadhbh
Sinead Murphy – Gráinne
Director – Michael James Ford
Creative Producer – Colm Maher
Costume Design – Bairbre Ní Chaoimh
Photography – Keith Jordan
Graphic Design – Gavin Doyle

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

1 reply »

  1. It seems that Frank L has overlooked one of the key features of the play, which is that it uses the architecture of Kildare Place to set a broader discussion about the role of taste, urban planning, modernisation, and memory in Dublin’s built environment. It is not a play about how Kildare Place lost its Georgian buildings but simply points to how that battle continues across the city. I would contest Frank L’s suggestion that there is little of architectural merit in Kildare Place. It contains some of Dublin’s most significant and diverse modern buildings, constructed less than one hundred years apart. That Frank L prefers Deane’s classicism (one of several styles the architect borrowed) to Barrett’s and to Stephenson’s brutalism, and once more overlooks Hayes’ friezes, only shows that a battle continues in Kildare Place. The actors discuss the architecture that surrounds them. They sing in its doorways, lean against its walls, and peer through its windows and doors. The play could not be performed anywhere else.

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