The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
forced the closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted
by putting archive recordings of past productions online, others
by streaming new shows. Until things return to normal we review
the experience of watching live theatre onscreen.
Shadow Of The Glen
Druid Theatre Company, 2005 December 2020
the Druid Theatre's 2005 DruidSynge project of doing all the Irish
dramatist's play, this dark comedy by J M Synge remarkably takes its
darkness and its comedy from the same source – the all-but-empty lives
of the rural Irish poor.
its brevity, it's a play full of twists and surprises, and I can't
review it without giving away a couple of them.
an isolated farmhouse an old man has just died, and his younger wife
goes mechanically through the proper rituals. The chance appearance of a
passing tramp is a welcome diversion, the requirements of hospitality
taking her mind briefly off her troubles.
visitor is a young neighbour, who wastes little time in suggesting that,
as soon as decencies allow, it might be enjoyable and practical for her
to marry him.
the old man isn't dead after all.
differing responses to his apparent death, his outraged response to
their responses and the ways peace of some sort is restored make up much
of the humour, But the playwright also makes clear that they are
happening in the context of a world of very limited horizons and
opportunities for happiness.
the end of the play two of the four will leave and two remain. And while
the pairings will be completely unpredictable, they are also believable
and dramatically satisfying.
Garry Hynes and his actors (some of whom appear in other plays in the
DruidSynge project) know these people and their world, and can inhabit
them with seeming effortlessness.
Walsh tells us volumes about the woman's life in the wordless opening
moments of the play, just through the exhausted-but-determined body
language with which she lights a couple of mourning candles, and then
lets us watch her mind discover, react to and process new thoughts she's
not had the occasion for before.
Lally doesn't hide the tramp's slyness and opportunism but convinces us
there is a good man in there somewhere, so that the character who ends
up with him in the final pairing-off will be in good hands. Eamon
Morrissey as the not-quite-dead man and Nick Lee as the prematurely
amorous youth are given fairly stock one-joke characters to play but do
them full justice.
The multi-camera video recording by Ronan Fox is intimate without being obtrusive, capturing all the play's atmosphere and comedy.
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