On Saturday August 14th 30 members of the Ballinasloe Active Retirement Association went to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin to see Seán O’Casey’s classic play, “The Plough and the Stars”. This play is regarded as his masterpiece and the one most closely associated with the Abbey Theatre.
After our train to Heuston and lunch in Wynns Hotel, we arrived at the Abbey for the afternoon matinee in great anticipation. We were not disappointed. It was a wonderful production with a cast of sixteen. There are four acts and I always marvel at the ease with which one act blends in so easily into the next.
It is a very intimate play about the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary times. The play is set in a tenement house and the period is the 1916 Easter Rising. Jack and Nora Clitheroe are a young couple. Jack is a member of the Irish Citizen Army but Nora doesn’t want him to have anything to do with it as she loves him and wants him to stay. However, when Ireland calls, Jack must choose between love for his wife and duty to his country.
The play involves tragedy but has moments of comedy and farce as well. The overall mood is one of hopelessness in the face of violence in Ireland in 1916. It shows the futility of violence when compared to the basic problems of the tenement inhabitants, such as poverty, illness, loneliness and unhappiness.
Throughout the play there are scenes of great joy and sorrow, laughter and tears. The character Fluther Good provides great comic moments with his turn of phrase but it is the great destruction caused by conflict and violence which becomes increasingly evident as the play progresses. Nora suffers because of her husband’s absence. Mrs. Grogan suffers because of her sick child Mollser. Bessie Burgess, despite showing great kindness to Nora in her hour of need, is committed to the opposing British forces and pays the ultimate price.
Altogether a very satisfying theatrical experience was had by all.