Two theatre shows to catch in Dublin this week
The Abbey brings the insurgent story of Jimmy Gralton back to the stage for another knees-up
The cast of Jimmy’s Hall visiting the site of the original hall and the ruin of Jimmy Gralton’s home in Effrinagh, Co Leitrim. Photograph: Brian Farrell
Abbey Theatre, Dublin. Jul 26th-Sep 8th, 7.30pm (sat mat 2pm) €13-45 abbeytheatre.ie
In 1932, at the beginning of de Valera’s Ireland, and the last years of the bitterly divided Free State, James Gralton returned to Leitrim from America. Reopening the Pearse-Connolly Hall, a secular community space he built years earlier for cultural lessons, debates and dancing, Gralton was an enthusiastic organiser who was insufficiently deferential to either church or state. Barely a year later he was deported as an illegal alien from the country of his birth. First staged last year, and adapted from Ken Loach’s 2014 film, director Graham McLaren burnishes Gralton’s legend with a production for the Abbey Theatre that takes the form of a ceilidh, performed by a bright ensemble of player-performers whose jigs, dancing and audience address suggest what might happen if Once The Musical met the populist agit-prop of Scotland’s legendary 7:84. Jubilant and earnest, sometimes to the point of self-seriousness, it is buoyed by the idea that any gathering has revolutionary potential, but is most steady in the simple joys of bringing people together.
Joxer Daly Esq.
Bewley’s Café Theatre, Dublin. Until August 4th. 1pm €8-€12 (light lunch €5.50)
How long can you play a support character until history finally makes you the lead? Long after the experience of a play dissipates, some figures remain vivid in the mind, and the curiosity you may have nursed about the fates of Moll or Malvolio, Shylock or Sarah Tansey has recently given us new optics into classic plays, told – as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern could tell you – from the wings of the action. Now Eddie Naughton turns to Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock to shuck free from its narrative the scrounger and charlatan Joxer Daly for his own solo show. In the body of Phelim Drew, Joxer is a once-respectable member of the Foresters Association turned vagabond, scraping an existence through wit and audacity against the seismic events of Ireland’s history, from the 1913 Lock Out to the Rising and into the Civil War. One of the more riveting takes of recent O’Casey revivals has been the reappraisal of his sage or savvy drinkers for a darker complexity. Without the distraction of accompaniment, director Karl Shiels’s production might look for a similar re-evaluation: is this darlin’, dishevelled man a figure of comedy, or of tragedy?