THEATRE REVIEW: The Big Fellah, 10.11.2010, The Rep (Birmingham)

The play opens in New York in 1972 and then progresses through the years, where young fireman Michael Doyle decides to join the IRA to live up to his Irish heritage. Costello, the “Big Fellah” recruits Michael, wanting to use his apartment in The Bronx as a safe house for an escaped killer and subsequently a safe house for IRA members. As the play continues, it is clear that someone in their circle is leaking information to the FBI and cannot be trusted.

The Big Fellah a play by Richard Bean about Irish-Americans in New York. The premier production is an Out of Joint and Lyric Hammersmith production, directed by Max Stafford-Clark.

Costello (Finbar Lynch) introduces the audience to New York,1972 where IRA man Michael Doyle (David Ricardo-Pearce) set the scene of the Woodlawn area of the Bronx where Doyle is on the run from Ireland and is kept safe by Ruairi O’Drisecoil (Rory Keenan). Lynch introductory monologue is automatically engaging and ignites the audiences’ enthusiasm for the play. With mixed portrayals of the IRA members through the ages The Big Fellah pays particular attention to the role of women, Elizabeth Ryan (Claire Rafferty) in the IRA and the sexism that did not allow them to progress to its higher ranks.

The play shows how friendship and solidarity appear in the hectic lives of people on the run, how love can exist but can be extinguished on orders, how people fight with little argument at times for what they believe in and how at other times they become dissident to the cause of their struggle when it changes from political/military to political/civilian and how to the human spirit separates civilians from military targets.

One particular scene that was distressing involved Costello making Frank Ardle (Fred Ridgeway), an IRA member with particular influence, take a drink after he professes his sobriety.

The play showed how the IRA membership took over people’s lives taking away their right to choose how to live, where to go and when they choose to leave the organization. One of the most poignant messages is actually how many loses there are not only to the victims of the IRA bombings but also the level of violence and killing within the organization when there is desertion or dissidents.

The characters were excellently portrayed, making the performance captivating. There was clear continuity through the ages and the characters personalities shone through, all in all a very good watch!

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Eleni Kypridemos


Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

  • Latest Issue

    ISSUE 6: OUT NOW Email if you want it direct to your inbox for free!!

  • Blog Archive

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 40 other followers

  • Follow TheKajeBlog on Twitter
  • Follow The Kaje Sessions