Skip to main content

Connolly

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Three stars

Audiences could be forgiven on Friday night for thinking they'd stumbled into Liberty Hall for real at the opening main stage production of this year's Mayfesto mini-season of politically driven theatre. The speak-easy vibe that punctuates Brian McCardie's searingly intense solo turn as James Connolly, the Edinburgh-born icon of the Easter Rising, when Ireland's free-thinking would-be liberators rose up against English rule a hundred years ago, may have been distracting, but it couldn't take away from the slow-burning power behind McCardie's performance in this self-penned piece.

The evening opened with three songs by singer Maeve Mackinnon accompanied by guitarists Fraser Spiers and the show's co-producer for the Fair Pley company in association with trade union Unite, Stephen Wright. After this, McCardie addressed the audience as if they were volunteers poised for battle. Beyond the low-key but impassioned rhetoric, Connolly gradually opens up, and by the time he's in Dublin's GPO building he's revealed a man who saw poverty first hand, and who stutters over the word 'capitalism' in a way that fires his inner socialist drive.

McCardie may be up there on his own, but there's an expanse to his director brother Martin McCardie's production that goes beyond the physical. The play still needs work in terms of shape and structure, and there are moments when McCardie's delivery is too insular to fully deliver, but there's a strength too to such quiet vulnerability. The near Beckettian bleakness which permeates the play's final third as Connolly sits in his striped prison cell pyjamas awaiting the firing squad is a damning image of how the establishment continues to brutalise dissent in a soon to be breathtaking piece of work.

The Herald, May 10th 2016

ends


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…