The Silver Tassie
Ireland's Druid Theatre Company deserves much credit for staging Sean O'Casey's 1928 antiwar drama "The Silver Tassie." This is an epic and altogether bleak piece of theater, combining realistic kitchen-sink drama with recurring bits of vaudeville comedy and folk singing.
Over the course of four acts, each presented in a different setting and style, O'Casey depicts how a young man's future is ravaged by his experience on the front lines in World War I.
At first, Harry Heegan (played with vigor by Garrett Lombard) is the toast of Dublin, having just won the coveted Silver Tassie soccer trophy.
But soon the play shifts to a rainy and gloomy battlefield in France. The stage is dominated by a massive tank with a turret that revolves back and forth. Atop the tank, a soldier is tied to a life-size crucifix stolen from a nearby church. The men engage in song and horseplay, but that can hardly raise their spirits.
Harry returns home in a wheelchair, and his longtime friend Teddy (Liam Carney), who batters his wife at the start of the play, has lost his eyesight. On Armistice Day, Harry erupts in anger at his family and former lover, who proceeds to make out with someone else in front of him.
John Olohan and Eamon Morrissey play a pair of clownish rogues who randomly appear in every scene. In spite of disrupting the plot, they provide some much-needed comic relief.
Garry Hynes' production, which features no less than 18 actors, is visually stunning and often chilling. But the play remains a difficult piece to take in as well as excessively preachy in its viewpoints. It can also be tough to decipher O'Casey's dense language in light of the cast's very thick accents.
If you go: "The Silver Tassie" plays at John Jay College through Sun. 899 10th Ave., 212-721-6500, lincolncenterfestival.org.