The Shadow of a Gunman
1923 play reenacts a moment in time
|Seanachai Theatre presents|
|The Shadow of a Gunman|
Review by Katy Walsh
Writers pretending to be someone else to impress a potential love interest. There should *never* be a law against that. Seanachai Theatre Company presents The Shadow of a Gunman. In 1920, a poet moves into a Dublin tenement. He is mistaken for an Irish Republican. Unlike the American faction, these republicans are the liberal rogues. Four years earlier, these radicals mounted an uprising against the British. The poet tries to straighten out the identity crisis. When a young patriot is smitten with his rebel facade, the poet assumes the role. What’s the worst that could happen? Raids. Bombs. Deaths. The Shadow of a Gunman is when harmless pretend turns into deadly reality.
Playwright Sean O’Casey penned this play in 1923 as part of his Dublin Trilogy that includes Juno and the Paycock and The Plough and the Stars. The historical fiction illustrates the Irish conflict with the British. The first of the series, The Shadow of a Gunman, starts out playful and then veers head-on into an unsettling conclusion. The set-up is perfect for a sequel. Under the dialect coaching of Elise Kauzlaric, the large cast excels at a variety of heavy Irish brogues. Multiple characters speaking at different volume levels and a fan behind me make deciphering the authentic dialogue a challenge. It’s like being dropped into an Ireland war zone and quickly trying to assimilate the situation. In the lead, Shane Kenyon (Donal) helps with the translation as a clear-spoken poet. By immediately understanding Kenyon’s diction, I’m able to piece together the conversation. An animated Jeff Christian (Shields) delivers laughs with his irresponsible antics. Some of Christian’s words are muffled, but he compensates with physical comedy. Clearly hilarious, Rob Glidden (Grigson) is a boisterous drunk being managed by his wife, Mrs. Grigon (Maggie Kettering). Kenyon, Christian, Glidden and Kettering have a powerfully sobering scene of heart-wrenching panic
Director John Mossman stages the comings and goings of an eleven member cast within a small bedroom. Set Designer Stephen H. Carmody has built out a dingy one room flat. Carmody includes filthy windows draped in dirty remnants to add a layer of intrigue. Street noises and lights from beyond the windows bring an element of danger into the room. Mossman directs the action with a natural pace. The first act has characters interrupting conversations. The second act accelerates into pandemonium. These directorial choices make The Shadow of a Gunman feel like a genuine reenactment of a moment in history. ( just don’t sit in the shadow of the fan.)
The Shadow of a Gunman continues through October 23rd at the Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $24-$28, and can be purchased by phone (866-811-4111) or online at OvationTix.com. More information at URL. (Running time: one hour 45-minutes, which includes one intermission)
All photos by Jackie Jasperson
behind the scenes
John Mossman (director); Michael Grant* (production stage manager); Mary Rose O’Connor (stage manager); Stephen Carmody (scenic); Garvin Jellison (lighting); Victoria DeIorio (sound); Beth Laske-Miller (costumes); Elise Kauzlaric (dialect coach); Jeri Frederickson (asst. director, dramaturg); Jackie Jasperson (photos)
*Member of Actors Equity Association
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