In good tradition
New Era Players: The Playboy of the Western World, at The New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Tuesday, March 8 to Saturday, March 12
What is it about Irish plays that we like so much? It must be the
yearning for a time when life was simpler than it is today. In County Mayo
at the beginning of the 20th century, life in Michael James Flahertys
shebeen is simple until the arrival of Christy Mahon, who wins the
admiration of the locals when he admits that he killed his father. He also
wins the heart of the landlords daughter Pegeen, to the consternation of
her wimpish fiancé Shawn. Christys father arrives, injured but very much
alive, and the fickle loyalties of the townspeople turn away from Christy.
Eventually he leaves with his father, and Pegeen grieves that she has lost
the only Playboy of the Western World.
James Winter made a convincing Christy, although he could have been a bit
more diffident at first. He had the charm and the blarney to sway the
townsfolk and when he saw the effect that his reputation had, he took full
advantage of it.
Zoë Rankin, as Pegeen Mike, seemed a little uneasy with the part, but Im
sure that more experience will bring out her obvious potential. Sue Keer was
excellent as the Widow Quin; somewhat older than the 30 years specified in
the script, but sassy and sensuous you could imagine Christy falling for
Mike Moors was Shawn Keogh; a difficult part which he played extremely well.
Keith Keer made a storming entrance as Old Mahon. He was Christys nemesis
and was forceful enough to command attention when he was on stage. Peter
Hendrickx was a suitably drunken Michael James.
The other parts were well played, including a nice comic performance from
Marian Hatfull as Sara Tansey.
The set was impressive, with loads of clutter including shoes, buckets,
potatoes and shovels. The Irish accents were generally good, especially from
James Winter and Sue Keer. Director Nigel Winter made it all run at a
cracking pace, and brought out a good contrast between humour and pathos.
New Era have produced many Irish plays over the years, and The Playboy of
the Western World was a well performed and enjoyable successor to these.