Director: Marc Mac Lochlainn
Music: Michael Chang
Reviewer: Tricia O’Beirne
Thaddeus Maloney’s dream is to open the most bee-yoo-tiful hotel in Ireland. He spent ten years collecting chairs from Istanbul, glassware from Vienna and cutlery from Germany, among many other special items. When we meet Maloney he is on his way home to Ireland, by rickety train and undulating boat, with all these wonderful furnishings in his gigantic suitcase. He is accompanied by the other five cast members in various guises and by the song of a violin playing sweetly. Maloney, dapper in his top hat and tails, meets Marcel the chef at Dun Laoghaire port and the two make their way to Maloney’s Hotel where the staff, including Irish-speaking Cáit, are waiting to receive him. By Easter Sunday the hotel is decked out in Maloney’s fine furnishings and is open for business.
But this is no ordinary Easter! On Easter Monday 1916 the GPO building near Maloney’s Hotel is commandeered by the Irish Volunteers and Dublin becomes a battlefield. The fighting brings many characters out onto the streets of Dublin: the shawlies are transfixed by the events in the Post Office but not so happy when they are unable to collect their ‘separation money’. The looters tell a young Volunteer where to go when she attempts to stop their plundering, while a little puppet boy highlights the vulnerability of street children during the fighting on the streets. Maloney’s hotel is raided first by the hungry rebels at gunpoint and then by the British soldiers who take all his fine linens for bandages. When the hotel comes under fire Maloney has no choice but to abandon his dream and take his staff to safety.
The educational aspect of Branar’s play is never condescending and events are presented from a range of viewpoints. With an empathetic and appealing cast of characters, along with music and puppets adding poignancy to the story-telling, this production is charming and gently informative. The set is simple and works, and the lighting alternatives of hotel chandelier or street gaslight add period atmosphere, as does the clever costuming (hats are put to particularly good use). Some rare glimpses of physical comedy made me want to see more of same, while the script at times seems to miss opportunities to be humorous. But the good news is that as the hour-long production comes to a close, Maloney rises, phoenix-like, to dream again of an even better future!
Runs until April 9th 2016 | Image: courtesy of Branar