Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is theatre, that’s why there was a mixed reaction to Lyric Theatre/Bruiser Theatre Company co-production The Colleen Bawn. This play, written by Dion Boucicault and first produced in New York in 1860, was for me and most of the audience around me a throughly good night’s entertainment, a complex story full of laughs, music and a little pathos, a terrific cast and a very talented director. Lisa May has taken a story considered a classic Irish play and turned it into a fast moving pantomime, a tongue in cheek production with, as one person observed, a touch of Monty Python! A joy to the ear with the rich variety of accents and the movement on stage choreographed by Jennifer Rooney has all the precision mechanism of a well oiled clock on speed dial.
Add to that a real curtain, unusual these days, rich plum velvet which swept aside to reveal a cast of seven in stage Irish costumes having a real hooley and you know you’re going to sit back and enjoy; even those who weren’t initially in the swing of things in Act One, at the end admitted to admiring the production. Ok it’s clichéd and predictable but that’s alright, it’s an interpretation of a play that’s been around for years and this version has no cobwebs about it, fresh as paint. It tells the tale of the upmarket mother and son who fall on hard times, marrying money is the solution but, unbeknownst to anyone, the son is already married to a pretty girl below his station but the love of his life. Throw in the evil landlord, a well meaning jack of all trades, another couple looking for love and you’ve an ensemble of actors who obviously relish the story and the challenge of being stretched to the limit and succeeding.
Bruiser don’t do things by half measures, they give it 100 per cent and Cavan Clarke, Patrick McBrearty, Bryan Quinn, Jo Donnelly, Colette Lennon Dougal, Enda Kilroy and Maeve Smyth deserved the enthusiastic applause and deserve a successful run until the end of April.
THE COLLEEN BAWN
Lyric Theatre and Bruiser Theatre Company
until 28th April 2018
Details at www.lyrictheatre.co.uk