"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Sunday, July 09, 2017
THE COUNTRY GIRLS
Chichester Festival Theatre at the
O'Brien's novel, notoriously banned in 1960s Ireland, is now
re-shaped by its author into this beautiful drama, getting its UK
premiere this year on the Minerva stage.
touching tale of innocence lost, in the repressed societyof Ireland
in the 50s.
Blair's production brings those times, those places to life on a
sloping, cobbled stage.
two girls grow up in a rural community, largely untouched by
progress, and are educated by nuns, ditto. Grace
Molony as Kate and Genevieve Hulme-Beaman as her bosom
friend Baba are both
excellent, capturing the two country girls at many points along their
journey from the sticks to the big city, from
cross-strap sandals to scarlet shoes, from
naïve, flighty school girls to older, wiser young women.
Gormley is Kate's
drunken and abusive
father, Malachi, is frighteningly
believeable, club in hand, frustrated that he cannot tame his
daughter as he breaks his horses.
Yourell gives a moving performance as te young postulant, Sister Mary
– some touchingly tender moments, hinting at more than they
express, with her star pupil Kate.
has another enigmatic relationship, much darker and much more
dangerous, with Valéry Schatz's Mr Gentleman, the suave but slightly
sleazy older man.
cast play multiple roles – the German landlady and her hen-pecked
husband stand out – and Keshini Misha makes an exotic Spanish lady
– rebranded Singing Woman in the cast list.
setting is simple but highly evocative: the quayside suggested by two
ropes, the hotel room by a lampshade. And since this is Chichester,
there's real Irish rain, too.