While undeniably epic in the writing and impressively epic in the staging, this rare production of Sean O’Casey's passionate anti-war play-with-music, is more historic document than entertainment for today.
It’s from renowned Irish company Druid - again opening their short British tour at The Lowry – and they are again a superb ensemble. But the play is a ragbag of comic turns, surreal sketches, satire, music hall and lots else that simply doesn’t gel.
At its heart is an examination of the traumas of war for those who have survived it. Soldier friends Harry and Barney are in Dublin, on leave from the Western Front. In a brief respite for the lads, Harry captains the local football team to victory before they return to the horrors of the First World War trenches.
Then comes the aftermath for the survivors, as a now crippled Harry faces a bleak future, hopes destroyed by his disability and a feckless girlfriend.
A cast of 19, led by award-winning, Aaron Monaghan, as Harry, is directed with great dedication by artistic director Garry Hynes and a series of impressive sets – including a gigantic tank – bear witness to the love lavished on the piece but it doesn’t deserve it.