The House

 

Abbey Theatre, Dublin. Ends Jul 14 7.30pm (Sat mat 2pm) €13-€40 01-8787222 abbeytheatre.ie

So begins the summer of Murphy. Last week, Druid Theatre Company’s trilogy of the great writer’s plays – A Whistle in the Dark, Famine and Conversations on a Homecoming – concluded its Galway preview of a narrative of uneasy Irish exile and return. (With sympathetic trajectory, Druid’s production opens in London, tours to New York, then returns to Galway in July.) In many respects, the Abbey’s production of The House, Murphy’s 2000 drama set in 1950s Ireland, could sit handsomely as the concluding part of a quadrilogy, if the two companies could ever collaborate.

A tense vision of homecoming, The House follows a young man, Christy, returning for the summer holidays with a group of fellow emigrants, who are welcomed with folded arms. What Christy considers home, though, is the grand house of the De Burca’s, where his mother was once a maid, and where he has become entangled, improperly, with most of its women and now attempts to save them from financial ruin. If there are Chekhovian echoes in that premise and vivid social history in the characters, Murphy’s senses were more archly attuned to a contemporary brash Ireland, unable to accommodate competing visions of itself. In 2000, it was easy to take the experience and miss the meaning. But with Annabelle Comyn directing a stellar cast for an attentive audience, The House is vitally worth revisiting.

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Ciudades Paraleles, Cork Midsummer Festival