Firstly, a warning. If this were a film it would have an over 15s certificate. It seems that every sentence has a word starting with the letter “F”, admittedly much of it in context, although I would certainly be embarrassed if I had taken my mother along to see this play.
Having said that, if you look beyond the strong language, you will discover a tale of a man torn between his personal life and his political commitments to “The Cause” of the Irish freedom fighters.
Written by a new playwright, Gerry Moynihan, and set in the country of Northern Ireland in the year 2017, it tells the story of a dissident Irish Republican (hence the play’s title), Padraig Devlin and his relationships with other members of his terrorist cell, Joe the leader and Eammon his somewhat intellectually-challenged colleague, which become more complicated when Padraig falls for a visiting lady from Barcelona. Padraig’s loyalties then become divided between his undoubted political leanings and his attraction to his new-found love. After three failed attempts at putting his bomb-making skills into practice, his colleagues decide to put Padraig’s commitment to the test, leading to a tragedy in his personal life. This sets him on the road to taking drastic action to extract revenge on his terrorist colleagues in a most dramatic and explosive manner.
This is a tour-de-force performance from the lead (and only) actor on the stage, Mr. Paul Kennedy, who carries the play on his own with a bravura performance as Padraig. The scenery is very stark, seemingly set in a storeroom where the characters meet, with everything covered with stained dust sheets. Mr. Kennedy’s very strong Irish accent on occasions made it difficult to understand what was being said, so the subtitles for this on-line performance were a blessing. He managed to convey the contrasting emotional influences of the character by subtle nuances of language. It was certainly a thought-provoking performance in the tradition of the pocket sized (it has a capacity of only around 50 seats) award winning Finborough Theatre, for which Mr. Kennedy is to be congratulated.
In summary, I thought this was a very entertaining first outing for the playwright and very much in keeping with the type of performances for which Finborough Theatre Company is renowned. The acting of Paul Kennedy was superb and definitely made the play what it was.
Review: David S Clarke
Reviewed: 12th November 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★