Wex­ford treat­ment for The Man From Clare

New Ross Standard - - NEWS -

THE MAN From Clare is hardly the jewel in the crown of John B Keane’s cáipín, but un­der Alan Cor­co­ran’s lu­cid di­rec­tion for the Wex­ford Drama Group at the Wex­ford Arts Cen­tre it pro­vided a cou­ple of hours of fun and games, and a few tears as well.

With the All-Ire­lands on the hori­zon this was a good time of year for a play loosely based around a GAA foot­ball match be­tween lo­cal teams from Kerry and Clare, with all the souped-up ri­valry and brag­ging that such en­coun­ters tend to en­cour­age as tribal in­se­cu­ri­ties float to the sur­face.

The Man From Clare first emerged in 1962, so it’s one of John B’s early works. It fo­cuses on match-win­ning foot­baller Padraic O’Dea, the man of the ti­tle who in his mid-thir­ties is ex­pected to lead his team Cuas in Clare to vic­tory against the home team of Beal­abawn, lo­cated just across the Shan­non in Kerry. The match brings O’Dea the sud­den dis­cov­ery that he no longer has the skills and strength to stay on top of his game. The role is con­vinc­ingly played by John Crosby as he strug­gles to ac­cept that his place as top dog is be­ing taken by the younger and fit­ter man, Jim Flynn, en­er­get­i­cally played by Si­mon O’Car­roll.

Mean­while the lads are in­vited af­ter the match to stay a while in the house of Mor­isheen Brick, with Eu­gene McLough­lin wring­ing all the laughs from his role as the father of sin­gle ex-nun Nellie.

Her stoic dif­fi­dence is finely cap­tured by Louise Dil­lon as Mor­isheen tries, with no de­gree of sub­tlety, to get her mar­ried off to Jim so that he him­self can pur­sue the woman of his dreams. She has to en­dure in­sults about her ap­pear­ance from O’Dea’s father Daigan (Michael Mur­phy).

Mean­while Flynn and O’Dea in­dulge in a bout of fisticuffs while the rest of the team are out drink­ing and chas­ing women like proper footballers.

The sound and light­ing at the Wex­ford Arts Cen­tre (de­signed by Pat Jack­man and Cian Red­mond re­spec­tively) added to the plea­sure of the oc­ca­sion for the full house on the night, and the ap­pre­cia­tive au­di­ence were riv­eted through­out. By Jackie Hay­den

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