Page 6, 18th February 1977

18th February 1977
Page 6
Page 6, 18th February 1977 — O'Casey's life challenge

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Locations: Dublin


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O'Casey's life challenge

"The Silver Tassie", one of Sean O'Casey's technically an d philosophically more complex plays, is not the simplest play for Clare Venables to start her career as production director at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. However, with strong performances from all the cast she has succeeded in presenting it with sensibility and understanding.

The central historical event is the Great War. The athletic football hero, Harry Heegan, who leaves his Dublin home and girl friend to perform his patriotic duty, and returns crippled, rejected by his girl and looked upon as little more than a burden by his friends, is rich material for sentiment.

The 'heroes" of the play, however, are the life forces, the characters who again take up the

challenge of life and live it to the full.

The naturalism of the first act provides a stark contrast to the battlefield scene of act two in which the ambiguous visual images provide a framework for the themes of the play. The two farcical caricatures from the military hierarchy provide their own ironic comment on life and war. "Penetrate a little deeper into danger. Foolish, yes, but then it's an experience; by God, it's an experience.' The football club dance is a parody of the battlefield. The blind cannot see the light and gaiety and the lame cannot participate; and it is here that life in all its ambiguous intensity wins the clay.

Chris Cosgrave

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