Skip to main content

Shall Roger Casement Hang?

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
Four stars

In a cell in Scotland Yard, a knight of the realm is in custody awaiting questioning after being found on an Irish beach with a bag full of bullets. By the next day, where he should have been immortalised as a glorious martyr to a doomed cause, other factors will dictate that he is, not written out of the history he helped make, exactly, but hardly lionised the way his fallen comrades are.

So it goes for Roger Casement in Peter Arnott's gripping two-hander, in which Casement's rebellious adventurer, human rights activist and republican gun runner caught out in the run up to the 1916 Easter Rising sounds like some pulp fiction super-hero. This is especially so considering the fact that he is also a well-heeled establishment figure and a homosexual who likes to document his illicit liaisons in prose that comes to define him even as it brings about his downfall.

Such contradictions run deep in Andy Arnold's Tron Theatre Company production for this year's Irish flavoured Mayfesto season. While Casement's interrogation by hard-nosed Scotsman Captain Hall is initially respectful, as played by Stephen Clyde with grim-faced politesse, good cop turns bad the next day as Casement's secret life is unearthed. Benny Young invests a seasoned hang-dog gravitas to Casement's exchanges with Hall, even as Hall compares him to Oscar Wilde, another sexual rebel “evangelical of art, Ireland and buggery,” as he puts it. Over eighty-minutes of cut and thrust punctuated by flashbacks that sees each scene captioned as a misplaced file might be, Arnott gets to the core of both men with forensic insight in this most intimate of psychological thrillers.

The Herald, May 23rd 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…

This House

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Five years is a long time in politics just as it is in the theatre. When James Graham’s epic reimagining of one of the most pivotal eras in late twentieth century British democracy first appeared in 2012, its depiction of the aftermath of the 1974 hung parliament in Westminster chimed with a then current coalition. Half a decade and a couple of referendums on, Graham’s dramatic whizz through to 1979’s successful vote of no confidence in the Labour government now looks like a warning.
Jeremy Herrin and Jonathan O’Boyle’s touring revival of a production first seen at the National Theatre begins with both sides of the House marching en masse in their grey suits and twin-sets down the aisles of the auditorium before cutting a well-choreographed rug in formation. As the Labour and Tory whips mark out their territory away from the chamber, this proves to be one of the few moments of unity in a breathless yarn that picks at the old-school gentleman’s agree…