In Irish playwright Dion Boucicault's 1874 comic melodrama, the dastardly Corey Kinchela, the forces of the crown and a liberal dose of 19th-century Fenian politics contrive to keep various lovers apart. But love eventually triumphs with more than a little help from Conn the Shaughraun (which translates from the Gaelic as “vagabond”) and his faithful dog Tatters.
This new production is directed by John McColgan (best known in this country for Riverdance, returned this week for what’s meant to be the “last ever” time at London’s Hammersmith Apollo) and designed by Francis O'Connor, with costumes by Joan O’Clery. It was first seen last summer at the Abbey and returned for a second sell-out Christmas season from 24 November 2004 to 26 November 2005 as part of the theatre’s centenary celebrations.
Boucicault, who was an actor and theatre manager as well as a playwright, is credited with writing nearly 200 plays, including London Assurance, Old Heads and Young Hearts, The Colleen Bawn and The Jig. The Shaughraun’s last major London outing was in 1988 at the National’s Olivier Theatre, in a production directed by Howard Davies and starring Stephen Rea.
Currently at the Albery Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company production of Eurpides’ Hecuba - in a new version by Tony Harrison, directed by Laurence Boswell and starring Vanessa Redgrave in the title role – opens to the press tomorrow, 7 April 2005 (previews from 26 March), and continues its limited season until 7 May.
- by Terri Paddock