THE TINKERS’ WEDDING and IN THE SHADOW OF THE GLEN
by J M Synge.
Pentameters Theatre 28 Heath Street NW3 6TE (entrance in Oriel Place) To 24 May 2015.
Tue-Sat 8pm Sun 5pm.
Runs 1hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7435 3648.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 May.
Comedies give life to lives sidelined in old rural Ireland.
These comic one-acters from short-lived Irish dramatist John Millington Synge (1871-1909) reveal a sharp edge in director John Dunne’s Pentameters pairing. The 45 minute Tinkers’ Wedding shows a country priest – paunchy, straggle-haired and drunk as played by Eden Ford – outwitted by impoverished tinkers. Sarah Casey has it in mind to marry Michael Byrne (who has little say in the matter) and barters for the priest’s services, manipulating him into agreeing to half his usual fee plus the tin can Michael’s making.
When her mother-in-law to be makes off with the can, and the theft is revealed, Sarah uses force, verbal and physical, to see the marriage through. There’s nothing but self-interest from the older woman, Mary, also drunk and eying material advantage in Fiona McGahren’s wild-eyed characterisation.
Shane Mitchell’s tinker has little say in the matter, but Victoria Otter shows Sarah to be someone not only forceful and manipulative, but also with a sense of a wider vision of herself. She’s the one who bothers about the ceremony, cleaning her face, dressing decoratively and bringing a small bunch of wild-flowers she’s gathered and has, at least, a sense of purpose.
Shadow is another glimpse of desire driving the country poor, with Nora using the arrival of a tramp seeking shelter from the storm to relieve the watch over her dead husband Dan. It’s evident she wants to be away with another man, and that Dan suspected as much.
He’s not dead, as the stranger finds out when they are alone. Though Dan plays dead again at his wife’s return, he shoots-up and shocks everyone when the newly-arrived Michael proposes to Nora, and sending his wife packing.
She makes the most of it, looking for a new life with the tramp – who takes the opportunity to stock-up on whiskey. The prospect of freedom on the open road which seems attractive to her after years confined with near-toothless Dan, who’s left alone. Both plays end with defiant departures.
Dunne and his cast produce fast, economical productions conveying the quick-fire tempers of in most of these characters with a suitably rough humour.
The Tinkers’ Wedding:
Mary Byrne: Fiona McGahren.
Sarah Casey: Victoria Otter.
Priest: Eden Ford.
Michael Byrne: Shane Mitchell.
In the Shadow of the Glen:
Nora: Fiona McGahren.
Michael: Victoria Otter.
Tramp: Eden Ford.
Dan: Shane Mitchell.
Director: John Dunne.