The Shadow of a Gunman - Little Theatre stages classic O’Casey drama

Poet Donal Devoran (Ronan Flynn) and his feisty admirer Minnie Powell (Jo Moore)

Poet Donal Devoran (Ronan Flynn) and his feisty admirer Minnie Powell (Jo Moore)

Athlone Little Theatre celebrates its 80th year in existence with a production of Sean O'Casey's classic tragicomedy, The Shadow of a Gunman, from December 3-9.

The Shadow of a Gunman, originally entitled On the Run, premiered in Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in 1923. Like O’Casey’s other two great tragicomedies, Juno and the Paycock, and The Plough and the Stars, it is set in the slums of Dublin where violent death and the everyday realities of tenement life contrast with the patriotic swagger of men caught up in the struggle for Irish independence.

O’Casey’s gifts were for vivid characterization and working-class language, and, although he portrayed war and poverty, he wrote some of the funniest scenes in modern drama.

Amidst guerrilla fighting between the IRA and the Black and Tans in 1920, the action centres around the poet Donal Davoren (Ronan Flynn ) whose neighbours think he is an IRA hero. Sharing his apartment is pedlar Seumas Shields, played by Harry Smith in a reprise of his stage role of more than 30 years ago. One day Mr Maguire (Paul Slevin ), another pedlar and a real IRA gunman, leaves a briefcase containing explosives with them. When Maguire is shot and the Black and Tans raid the apartment, the pair are saved by Minnie Powell (Jo Moore ), an admirer of Davoren, who removes the case. However, the consequences of the misunderstanding do not end there...

This hard-hitting but far from heavy production features a stellar cast including seasoned performers Ann Hoey (Mrs Henderson ), Chrissie Keane (Mrs Grigson ), and Jim Quinlan (Mr Mulligan, the landlord ), and newer talents Ernie Draper, Dermot McElwaine, and Anthony Merrigan.

Experienced director Billy Nott, ably assisted by stage manager Mildred Henehan and technical manager Anthony Quinn, brings this timely production to life on a set designed and constructed by Little Theatre favourite, Geoff Boles.

The Shadow of a Gunman will run nightly at 8pm from Saturday, December 3 to Friday, December 9 at Athlone Little Theatre, St Mary's Place, Athlone. For online bookings see www.athlonelittletheatre.ie or phone (090 ) 6474324.

This event is supported by Westmeath County Council and the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht as part of the 1916 centenary commemorations.

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