Friday, 19 August 2016

Review: The Plough and the Stars at the National Theatre

The Plough and the Stars
National Theatre (Lyttleton)
Review on Thursday 18th August 2016

The National Theatre love reviving an epic, and Sean O'Casey's powerful classic The Plough and the Stars has definitely benefited from the magic of the Lyttleton stage.

Set during the East Rising in 1915/1916 Ireland, the story focuses on a run down tenement in troubled Dublin. As the inhabitants try to forge their way through a new perilous age, O'Casey shines a spotlight on the ordinary people who found their lives changed forever, overnight.

In typical National style, the design is a sight to behold, with Vicki Mortimer's large imposing brick house taking up most of the stage, and creating a believable setting. Co-directors Jeremy Herrin and Howard Davies have created a tight production that whizzes along, but only really hits its stride during Act Two - with a tense, explosive and claustrophobic final scene. 

There are some well crafted performances throughout, particularly from Justine Mitchell as the interfering Bessie, and Judith Roddy who gives a touching passionate turn as Nora - young and sprightly at first, before the conflict changes her irrevocably.

It's quite a heavy, political assault on the senses, but you can't help but be moved by O'Casey's endearing characters, and Herrin and Davies classy, well executed production.

Reviewed by Oliver Dowdeswell

The Plough and the Stars runs at the National Theatre (Lyttleton) until 22nd October 2016.
Please visit for further information and tickets.

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