LADY GREGORY: A GALWAY LIFE
by Phil Mason.
Pentameters Theatre 28 Heath Street NW3 6TE To 11 October.
Tue-Sat 8pm Sun 5pm.
Post-show Discussion 11 Oct.
TICKETS: 020 7435 3648.
then tour 15-24 October 2015.
Runs 1hr 25min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 October.
A woman of some importance to Irish theatre revealed.
This autumn London’s fringe is celebrating two strong-willed women of means who, a century or so ago, were supporting new moves in British theatre. At the Finborough are four short pieces from the early Manchester repertory movement, supported by Annie Horniman, who also helped fund the work of Granville Barker, Bernard Shaw and the (now Royal) Court Theatre in London, as well as moves by W B Yeats and others to start-up a theatre in Ireland to produce plays by Irish writers.
Yeats had another supporter in Augusta, Lady Gregory, who did not take to Mrs Horniman, being sure the other woman was just after Yeats himself. Galway-based Gregory (it was her married name, maintained throughout a long viduity until her death, aged 80, in 1932) was a member of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy so hated by republicans and united Irish supporters. Yet her home at Coole was among the few not burned-down during times of political activity.
She was a considerate landlord, and courageous, informing one man who threatened to kill her that she could be seen at the same hour every evening working at her desk by the window with the curtains open.
Phil Mason’s account of her life gives the energy a retrospective element, starting with Gregory in old age, already suffering the breast cancer that would kill her, sitting in a corner of her room. The placing is emblematic. She was a playwright herself, initially the most popular of those writing for what became the Abbey Theatre, but was overshadowed by Yeats, and possibly others, being a woman. It was all right for her to fund their work, and to solicit money from others with wealth; but as a writer she never seemed to gain their recognition.
Yet when Maura Judges moves to the great writing-desk it’s possible to glimpse the Lady’s authority. It will doubtless be more possible as the run succeeds and an initial tentativeness is passed so the actor can relax into and feel confidence in her performance. At present the eyes too rarely make contact with the audience in revealing this fascinating story.
Lady Gregory: Maura Judges.
Voices: Mary Sheridan/Poet: Kelly McAuley.
W B Yeats: Colin Pinney.
Sir William: Bernard O’Sullivan.
J M Synge: Derek Murphy.
Mark Twain: Jimmy O’Rourke.
Anthony Raftery: Michael McClare.
Wilfred Blunt: Michael Dickinson.
15 Oct 8pm St John’s Theatre Listowel Co Kerry 068 22566 www.stjohnstheatrelistowel.com
16 Oct 8pm Carnegie Theatre Kenmare Co Kerry 00 353 (0) 64 66487011 www.carnegieartskenmare.ie
18 Oct 8pm Tech Amergin Waterville Co Kerry +353-66-9478955 www.techamergin.com
21 Oct Thoor Ballylee Castle Co Galway
22 Oct 8.15pm Village Theatre Kilworth Co Cork 087-6492514 www.villageartscentre.com