Anne Hailes reviews: God Bless The Child at the Lyric Theatre

God bless the child

God Bless The Child

Lyric Theatre

Until 21st March 2015.


God Bless the Child is a must.  What a night of entertainment from three little primary school boys, short pants, shirts hanging out, stroppy like they should be.  Yet these are grown men acting out the characters in three of Frank O’Connor’s short stories, My Oedipus ComplexThe Genius and First Confession.  

There’s Michael (Shane Casey) who just loves his mother.  Tall and skinny he likes nothing better than snuggling in beside her in the big feather bed.  Indeed, some day he might marry her and have lots of children but his childish fantasies are blown out of the water when his Dad returns from the First World War and takes his rightful place beside his wife.  No room for the little boy now and worse is to come.  And then there’s Larry (Gary Murphy) a prim little swat who can’t make up his mind whether to be a composer or a priest but content in the knowledge he will be a genius whatever happens.  And then he falls in love and he thinks his girlfriend falls in love with him, how difficult is the realisation that girls are fickle creatures.  

Rotund young Jackie (Ciaran Bermingham) has a different problem.  He hates his granny and dislikes his sister, secretly he plans to kill them both, he has even had a trial run – unsuccessful thankfully.  But when it comes to his first confession he panics – what will the priest say when he admits to his murderous intent?

Funny and sad, these three excellent actors draw their audience into the stories, we worry with them and celebrate when things go right.  

The set is simple, a class room in Cork in the early 1900s, a picture on one wall, a statue of the Virgin Mary again the other wall and a huge wooden cross suspended over the teacher’s table. The schoolroom desks become beds, confessionals or whatever is needed at the time.  The children get excited and agitated as they tell their secrets to us, but in unison, when the big bell rings, the seven year olds drop to their bare knees to pray like good little boys.

Patrick Talbot’s production, direction and indeed adaptation of the stories makes for an outstanding night of theatre at the Lyric.

God Bless the Child  runs until Saturday 21st March 2015.

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By Anne Hailes 

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