Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Plough and the Stars at Opera House

Yesterday, with fellow members of the English Department, I accompanied our senior English students to see the Abbey production of the Plough and the Stars by Séan O’ Casey at Cork Opera House. Director (Olivier Award Winner) Sean Holmes breathed new life into a play that can often come across as somewhat turgid and dated. From the moment the play opened it was obvious that this production was going to be lively and engaging. The very imaginative set featured scaffolding for the tenements and worked really well. For me, Ciarán O Brien stole the show as the Young Covey. The whole cast were superb, though I was disappointed with the wooden portrayal of Nima Taleghani as Corporal Stoddart.
Our school was in the stalls and we had, at times, difficulty in hearing the words of Mrs Gogan in particular, and Rosie Redmond. Apart from these small gripes, I would recommend this production highly. Students from schools all over the county packed the Opera House and were riveted by the performance which lasted two and half hours (including 20 minute interval) which was a great compliment to the cast and director. A superb production, energetic, imaginative and engaging. If you get half a chance, do go see it.
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Peggy Goes to Dublin

I seriously fear for Peggy’s health, I mean, she’s not getting any younger and it’s only the beginning of April yet. If she carries on the way she’s going she won’t last out the year, so she won’t.  Celebrating and commemorating the 1916 rebels is all well and good but if the woman doesn’t learn to pace herself, she’ll end up six feet under just like the heroes of the Rising. I mean, off she went to Dublin yesterday on the 6.30 train without saying a word to any of us? Can you credit that? A woman her age, going off on her own like that!

Then, just as I’m about to sit down with a cup of coffee around 10am, I get a call from an almost apoplectic Peggy. The reason – she couldn’t get into Kilmainham Goal! I mean, isn’t it ironic, in a way, that the heroes of the rebellion couldn’t get out of the place and Peggy wasn’t able to get in. Of course, when I mentioned this to her, in an attempt to lighten the mood, she nearly ate the face off me. Said that the present generation had no sense of respect for the martyrs of the past and that my scoffing at those brave men was just typical of the modern age, so it was.  Jeez, I had to hold the phone away from my ear and seriously thought about hanging up on her but I knew she’d only ring me back again. I think I told you before that the woman has a skin like a rhinoceros.

So I had no choice but to listen to her ranting and raving on for at least five minutes. ‘Every fecking tour in the Goal was booked out with the fecking Americans, the Italians and the French tourists taking up all the places which rightly should be given over to Irish people’ ‘You can be sure,’ she shouts into my ear, ‘that them foreigners aren’t half as interested in their own bleddy history’ Why the feck, she wanted to know, were they over here instead of learning about their own histories in their own countries where they could take all the tours they want and good luck to them? And here she was, a poor widda woman whose Irish blood goes back to Cúchulainn, locked out of the Goal in her own country where her own heroes had been murdered because fecking foreign tourists were taking up all the bleddy tickets. Blah, blah, blah. Imagine, listening to all that at 10 o clock in the morning, for God’s sake!

To be fair to Peggy now, she’s all for welcoming tourists in the normal course of events and I can only conclude that the disappointment of not getting into Kilmainham was the cause of her total irrationality and temporary xenophobia. But still, it didn’t reflect well on her, that’s for sure.

Well, it was obvious I could kiss good luck to my peaceful coffee break after all this. I mean, I was totally stressed myself and I wasn’t anywhere near Kilmainham Goal. Still and all, I knew I had to calm her down or she’d end up getting some sort of fit outside the Goal, and as sure as anything, she’d end up on the 6 One News and Lourda Kennefick would never let her get over the shame of it. So I had her taking deep breaths and imagining all the stress and tension coming out like smoke through the soles of her feet,  like they tell you in yoga. Well, thank God, it worked and after a while her voice came back to normal.

When she was calm enough to listen to reason, I told her the best thing she could do now was to take herself off to Dublin Castle. After all, there she’d be standing on the very cobbles that symbolised British rule in Ireland. In fact, it was at the gates of the castle itself that the very first casualty of the Rising was recorded. Warming to my theme, I told her that all she had to do was close her eyes and she’d feel herself there on Easter Monday 1916, hearing the shouts and the shots and the clattering of military boots and poor Constable O’ Brien dying on the blood stained cobbles.

I also warned her to look out for the blue painted building at the side of the castle itself because that’s where British Intelligence, known as the G men, worked. Thank God, she got wildly enthusiastic at that, remembering that Collins’ squad had killed a number of them around various parts of Dublin on Bloody Sunday 1920. Honestly, the woman has a fierce blood thirsty streak running through her veins. I know no one else other than Peggy Lysaght who can get so excited at the mere thought of blood sacrifices, well, other people’s blood sacrifices anyway.

Do you know, when I eventually hung up that phone, I wasn’t worth thruppence. If she doesn’t manage to kill herself during the course of the year, you know, I think the woman might well be the death of me.

Vanessa

PS: Jeez, I’m after looking up the calendar this minute and do you know, there are SEVEN whole months still left in 2016.  I think I’ll forget the coffee and crack open a bottle of Stella Artois instead- to help me cope with the stress of the year that’s in it!

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