Easter 1916, Pentameters Theatre, review: ‘Laudable but dry history’

Easter Rising. Picture: Daniel Latter

Easter Rising. Picture: Daniel Latter - Credit: Archant

It’s a hundred years since the 1916 uprising of republicans who were attempting to overthrow the hated English rule in Ireland.

Not enough is known over here about this imporant event in British history and John Dunne’s play helps us to learn a little about it and the characters involved.

Set in front of John Dalton’s beautiful reproduction of Dublin’s General Post Office where most of the events took place, it alternates in short brisk conversations between the republican rebels and the British army.

Pearse (Paul O’Dea) and Connelly (Ken McLoone) are the leaders of the rebels and the English army is represented by The Colonel (Robert Bendetti - Hall) who doesn’t even know there is a rebellion even though he is there to keep the peace. The republicans are ambitious to start building a new Ireland but they wait for the British to attack so they can begin hostilities.

Many of the republican soldiers are amateurs lacking in weapons and matching uniforms - ordinary people living an ordinary life – who have a tendency to get fed up and go back to their day jobs. But the men leading the rebels are presented as true heroes.

There is humour provided by rifle bearing Jimmy O’Rourke who is longing to have a go at the English and Michael McClare as the hotel manager furious because of the damage being caused to his place of work. There’s also interest from a female soldier and a civilian who believes rebellion will only end in disaster.

The priest seems the one with the clearest head. He is worried that he is having to deal with Bolshevics and believes that Irelend will not be free until England has defeated Germany. While Dunne paints a clear picture of the idiocy of war his eagerness to pack in the facts of this momentous day means he never achieves the balance between the, politics and telling compelling human stories. With often laboured dialogue, instead of a thrilling piece of drama this feels like a rather dry history lesson - albeit one that the full house at Pentameters was clearly eager to hear.

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Rating: 3/5 stars.