Reviewed by Dave Smith
Director Rob Croser has once again tackled a meaty and challenging piece of theatre and in most ways did it justice.
The box set of the western Irish shebeen looked authentic and allowed the cast the clear use of the broad Odeon stage.
The action was well led by William Cox as the enigmatic Christy Mahon. He had a quietly compelling presence from his first entrance and gradually grew in intensity as the play progressed. He was matched by the skilful characterisation of Catherine Hancock as Pegeen Mike. She developed an admirable range of emotions and used them sensitively, none more tellingly than her final tortured line following Christy’s exit.
Tracey Walker was a commanding and sensual Widow Quin, while David Roach brought his wide experience to bear in the role of Christy’s father Old Mahon. The four village girls, so readily in awe of the newcomer Christy, were energetically played by Anna Bampton, Grace Berwald, Georgia Penglis and Emma Bleby. Their ensemble work in that small group was a strength.
The play looked very good, and the cast successfully maintained the pace, humour and tension of the various interactions. The Irish accents were both a strength and weakness of the production. While they were universally sustained, they occasionally made the dialogue indecipherable.
In total, though, the production readily captured the beliefs, attitudes and mores of early twentieth century rural Ireland, and the turmoil of the perplexing presence of the Playboy.