Tag Archives: Danielle Galligan

The Gate Theatre: The Heiress

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“You are good for nothing unless you are clever.” 

–  Henry James, The Heiress

Ruth and Augustus Goetz’ adaptation of Henry James’s novel Washington Square, The Heiress is probably one of the most perfectly unimpressive plays. It’s a typical story of the late 19th century life of  the other half. The constant battle of money, affection and betrayal. It’s also a story where one of the main characters is none the less but a house,  beautiful but soulless space that becomes a prison for some and the entrance into the garden of Eden for the others. New York’s Washington Square charms, it attracts and mesmerizes people who have once seen its rich beauty and now are unable to let it go.They want it for themselves no matter what.

Slightly over two hours long The Heiress is a flaying piece with only a handful of characters. Centered mainly on the life of Catherine Sloper (played by Karen McCarthy), the only daughter of Dr. Sloper (played by Denis Conway) and his late but still very much beloved wife. A simple, bubbly, home life appreciative Cathy perhaps isn’t the best match for the gentlemen of the New York nobility but a spark of hope lights when she meets Morris Townsend (played by Donal Gallery). Against her father’s will and with the help of her spinster auntie Lavinia (played by Marion O’Dwyer), who is a great character herself, a secret marriage has been arranged. For Catherine the decision has already been made but what about the young fiancé who is a bit unimpressed to find out that in the case of this marriage taking place his young wife most definitely will be disinherited?

A cruel story of false promises of love, sour betrayal and cold-hearted but sweet revenge shows us one of the best examples of a strong female characterization in a dramatic play. Catherine is indeed a very enjoyable character whose personal growth is nothing but fascinating to witness.

Even though the play does have some very nice lines to feed one's mind and the acting is as superb as always, there was something missing in the piece to make it stand out. Too sweet and perfect to challenge the audience.

On a slightly more positive note, Jonathan Fenson’s stunning stage and dress designs made it an absolute pleasure for the eye to watch the play. I really enjoyed the captivating depth of the stage and how well it symbolically represented the story.

Directed by David Grindley, The Heiress runs in Dublin’s Gate Theatre until January 21st. Only a few chances left to catch it. For more info or to book tickets: http://www.gatetheatre.ie/production/TheHeiress2016

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Filed under Henry James, Ruth and Augustus Goetz, The Gate Theatre, The Heiress, Uncategorized, Washington Square

Project Arts Center: The Train

Ireland is a small country and whenever a play is a real success, the word is being spread around quite quickly.

Rough Magic presents the hit musical that I can see turning the lights on on Broadway one day. We are boarding The Train.

With an amazing cast, a live band, and a hell of a story behind it, after it premiered in the Lime Tree Theatre (Limerick) The Train has finally arrived in Dublin. Originally the play was part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2015, but due to [crazy] popular demand, extra days have been added. And The Train just kept on running.

From my own experience, I can safely say that one of the essential ingredients of making a rememberable play is by discussing an uneasy and deeply tabooed matter. The deeper you dig into the roots, the better it will be. That’s why such plays as The Field, Riders to the Sea, The Plough and the Stars will always be popular with the public. People love reminiscing, people love dwelling on good olden days. But even more, people love realising how long a road they have walked; how much they have changed; how much the country they call home has changed.

A play is always a very healthy way of reacting to a problem. It’s also a very desperate one! It’s the public’s scream of help and acknowledgment. Forty years have passed. We need to talk about The Train.

Think that only some thirty-forty-fifty years ago Ireland was a totally different place. Divorce was illegal, abortion was (and still is!) illegal, the use of contraceptions was illegal… a woman, if married, needed  permission from her husband if she wanted to travel to a different town or city! I am not even mentioning the fact that women were made redundant the day they got married. And even though matriarchy and women power was not a myth and existed, it was strictly restricted to stay within the walls of one’s own house. And it’s not that Irish women needed liberation (of course, they did!), even more they needed a life and to be in control of it!

Set in 1971 in Dublin, The Train tells us the story of five women who (along with another 42) boarded a train at Connolly station to go to Belfast. Five passionate activists from Irish Women’s Liberation Movement boarded that train to bring the contraception pill from the North (where it was legally, with a prescription, sold in chemists’) to the Republic. By law and by the catholic church, Irish women were not allowed to use any sort of contraception. No exception was made for no one. Family planing? Who needs it, when God has already planned it all!

By the reactions in the audience, it’s evident that for some women The Train touched on a very personal ground. I myself did not know anything about it before seeing the play, and even I was touched by some tunes and scenes. Oh, did I want to stand up to chant with the rest of the voices “Let them through!” when the girls have crossed the border and the train stopped in Dundalk!

I absolutely loved the way the story was delivered to us. If you think about it, such a difficult matter… was made into a musical. With nice and melodic tunes that carried the action forward, outstanding acting and the energy coming from both the cast and the audience, I can say without any doubt that The Train is to become one of Ireland’s symbolic plays.

Darragh Kelly gave an especially memorable performance! Watching him in a play is a pleasure itself, but his out-of-Father-Ted-ish priest was absolutely brilliant. The wit, the mimics, the mannerisms… it was all worth every last drop of sweat he produced!

The five “train” girls: Danielle Galligan, Kate Gilmore, Liza Lambe, Karen MacCartney and Sophie Jo Wassen were also outstanding. It was truly eye-captivating how they created totally different and unique characters.

The play would not be complete without Clare Barrett and Emmet Kirwan hilariously but absolutely beautifully portraying a “typical Irish couple”. I saw Clare in a couple of plays previously and she always wins me over with the ways she can naturally create an interesting and human character.

The set is another gem. Representing two railway tracks, it’s not only symbolic but also works very well establishing the hierarchy. Notice how some characters always stand on the tracks when they are speaking…

I don’t think that The Train needs any more words to be said… it’s an amazing play about our past and the journey we’ve all taken. The Train that departed on May 22nd 1971 has arrived back. Forty seven brave women made the journey that changed the life of all Irish women forever. And I’m not talking about condoms and the “jelly”. There are still women against contraception. At least, now they’ve got a choice.

The tickets are very hard to get due to the play’s success, but it’s always worth trying your luck. To get your ticket for The Train, as per usual… http://projectartscentre.ie/event/train/

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Filed under Project Arts Center, Rough Magic Theatre Company, The Train