(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 12/20.)
Marie Jones clearly feels that the political anger behind her hit play, first seen in Ireland in 1996, got somehow neglected when the show became a West End hit. So Indhu Rubasingham, director-designate of the Tricycle, has come up with a fine revival that puts the emphasis back on the disintegration of a rural community. But, while I welcome this revisionist approach, I still feel it's the tragicomic mix and the platform it provides for two performers that makes this play special.
Jones's witty conceit is to view the making of a piece of Hollywood-Irish hokum from the perspective of two County Kerry extras: the quintessentially optimistic Charlie and the more jaundiced Jake, lately returned from New York. What Jones does is to skilfully oppose life and art. In the movie, the high-born heroine romantically weds a local lad: in reality, Jake rejects the advances of the gushing American star who pretends to seduce him in order to appropriate his accent. And, while the film offers a rose-tinted vision of Irish life, the truth is that the land is being split up and Jake's suicidial cousin is the latest victim of both rural decline and the national propensity to dream.