Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Abbey Theatre, 'Sive': Home Is Where the Hearth Is

Sive was first rejected at the Abbey for being "too melodramatic". Director Conall Morrison seems set on restraining such devices but can John B. Keane's play be held down?

Abbey Theatre
Feb 19-Apr 12

I don't have time to do a full review of Sive

Conall Morrison directs John B.Keane's play about a matchmaking scheme to sell an orphaned schoolgirl to an elderly farmer. The production is mired by a lack of melodrama though (Blythe rejected its first submission to the Abbey for being "too melodramatic"), as if the vision is to allocate more seriousness to events. The psychological fixation on Derbhle Crotty's bitter antagonist, for example, holds back a lot of the comedy and punctuation that should make the play roll. It also ignores the obscenity of Daniel Reardon's villain. 

There is an attempt to unscrew something new, as Sabine Dargent's set design twists a cottage into the surly crevices of a mountain, suggesting something mystical. But only when it embraces the melodramatic devices of heightened deliveries does the staging succeed, as seen in the final act with the whistling exchange between Barry Barnes and Simon O'Gorman. And while Morrison's direction takes the edge off, thankfully there is Ian Lloyd Anderson to dutifully bring the play to its solemn close. 

But what did everyone else think?

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