Sunday, April 03, 2016

"The Plough and the Stars" at the Abbey #derogatory #273

As it is the centenary of the 1916 Rising it's no surprise that the Abbey Theatre marks the occasion by putting on Seán O'Casey's "The Plough and the Stars". Roma and I attended with my Mum and Dad, and we all enjoyed a fantastic performance of this classic play with a modern touch.

In 1926 when this play was first staged, there was riotous behaviour by the audience. According to the Abbey Theatre's web site:

Image source: National Museum of Ireland.
The Plough and the Stars was first performed at the Abbey Theatre in 1926, less than ten years after the Easter Rising of 1916. On the night of the fourth performance, the Abbey Company was met by an unruly audience who protested against what they believed was a grotesque distortion of historical events slandering those who had died for Ireland. The riot featured a coordinated appearance by the widows and bereaved women of 1916.

During the disruption W.B. Yeats rose to praise the new play and addressed the audience saying, “You have disgraced yourselves again. Is this to be an ever recurring celebration of the arrival of Irish genius?”

In 2016 the performance in this sold-out run was greeted with loud applause from all. In a simple, yet very effective set, O'Casey's take on the sacrifice of the Easter Rising and the poverty in Dublin is conveyed sensitively and bluntly. One can see some reason why people in 1926 would have taken exception to the play, but in today's eyes The Plough and the Stars is not interpreted in this way. We can now look back with pride on the events of Easter 1916 and at the same time wonder how our ancestors lived in Dublin tenements during a violent time in our history.

This modern version of The Plough and the Stars is tastefully done. From the looting of iPhones, to the electric kettle, to the remote control and Sky Sports in the bar, to the modern uniforms of the British soldiers - I loved it all.


  1. Plough and the stars with a modern music and chrome scaffolding to represent a tenement building. Sparce backdrops (Chair and a wardrobe) that did nothing to capture the atmosphere of the time. If you're looking for an experience to draw you back in time this is not for you. Very disappointed as were a lot of members of the audience.