Sunday, 1 June 2014

'The Silver Tassie' National Theatre, Lyttleton ****

The National Theatre, as previously mentioned is by far my favourite theatre and the revival of Sean O'Casey's fourth play 'The Silver Tassie' does not disappoint. The play explores the woeful circumstances around the First World War and the immense trauma of not being able to walk again can impact on a young man's life. The playwright himself explained, when asked about the play states "A generous handful stones, aimed indiscriminately, with the aim of breaking a few windows. I don't think it makes a good play, but it's a remarkable one." We are introduced to a quaint Irish community, who are celebrating a football victory are horrified to learn that a worldwide war has just been declared and that every male aged sixteen plus must sign up to the army and fight. The narrative is incredibly moving as we are witnessing the destruction of the community and the decline of the young soldier's mobility and his love life is dwindling. This is an issue that's very current due to the effects of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where loss of limbs is a factor that affects soldier's recovery, mentally, physically and emotionally. I found the handsome Harry Heegan's story vastly saddening as his entire life has been overturned and destroyed as he can no longer walk and his girlfriend, before the war, Jesise Taite has moved on to someone else. This is an engaging piece of playwriting and the dialogue is impressive throughout as it pulls on the heart strings. I could feel the atmosphere in the Lyttleton auditorium change when the war scenes were being performed with grandeur. No wonder this production has proved a big success with audiences and my fellow colleagues. The performances by the company of 'The Silver Tassie' were exceptionally captivating. Ronan Raftery was excellent as the central protagonist, Harry Heegan. His vocal and movement delivery was something you should not to miss whatsoever. Jessie Walker is great as Harry's supportive and protective mother, Mrs Heegan. Aidan Kelly is frightening as the violent Terry Foran, who is left visually impaired due to the effects of war. Deidre Mullins is magnificent as Harry's former flame, Jessie Taite. I particularly like to reactions to Harry's unfortunate situation. Of course the rest of the company were wonderful too, such brilliant attention to detail from start to finish. The director for this exceptionally moving production is National Theatre regular, Howard Davies. His direction is amazing has he is being able to engage an audience with a well-known scenario and make them think. Slightly Epic and Brecht inspired I might add. Vicki Mortimer's designs are intricately detailed and wonderfully combine all setting to a sublime standard of finish. I found some of the pyrotechnics to be a wonderful addition to this interesting piece of theatre. I must advocate 'The Silver Tassie' is a gracious performance and worth saying.

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