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New Era: The Playboy of the Western World

8th to 12th March 2005.

Here is the NWN review.

In good tradition

New Era Players: The Playboy of the Western World, at The New Era Theatre, Wash Common, from Tuesday, March 8 to Saturday, March 12

What is it about Irish plays that we like so much? It must be the yearning for a time when life was simpler than it is today. In County Mayo at the beginning of the 20th century, life in Michael James Flaherty’s shebeen is simple until the arrival of Christy Mahon, who wins the admiration of the locals when he admits that he killed his father. He also wins the heart of the landlord’s daughter Pegeen, to the consternation of her wimpish fiancé Shawn. Christy’s father arrives, injured but very much alive, and the fickle loyalties of the townspeople turn away from Christy. Eventually he leaves with his father, and Pegeen grieves that she has “lost the only Playboy of the Western World”.

James Winter made a convincing Christy, although he could have been a bit more diffident at first. He had the charm and the blarney to sway the townsfolk and when he saw the effect that his reputation had, he took full advantage of it.

Zoë Rankin, as Pegeen Mike, seemed a little uneasy with the part, but I’m sure that more experience will bring out her obvious potential. Sue Keer was excellent as the Widow Quin; somewhat older than the 30 years specified in the script, but sassy and sensuous – you could imagine Christy falling for her.

Mike Moors was Shawn Keogh; a difficult part which he played extremely well. Keith Keer made a storming entrance as Old Mahon. He was Christy’s nemesis and was forceful enough to command attention when he was on stage. Peter Hendrickx was a suitably drunken Michael James.

The other parts were well played, including a nice comic performance from Marian Hatfull as Sara Tansey.

The set was impressive, with loads of clutter including shoes, buckets, potatoes and shovels. The Irish accents were generally good, especially from James Winter and Sue Keer. Director Nigel Winter made it all run at a cracking pace, and brought out a good contrast between humour and pathos.

New Era have produced many Irish plays over the years, and The Playboy of the Western World was a well performed and enjoyable successor to these.