Druid Murphy is an unprecedented triumph
Celebration of Tom Murphy's forty year career looks to the little details of our own lives
Were that all Murphy does he would deserve lasting monuments, but he delves further and deeper into the souls of his creations the better to understand their individual motives and the society that has created them.
Niall Buggy and the prodigiously talented Aaron Monaghan took possession of the stage throughout and astonished the Lincoln Center’s American audience with the plays atavistic power.
Famine, the concluding play of the three-part retrospective, was the most shattering work in an evening of intensely provocative productions. Being the most thematically ambitious play of the night it faced impossible challenges: how do you convey the scope and legacy of a disaster that led to the starvation deaths of over one million Irish people and led a further two million of them to the emigrant ships?
Famine begins with blight on a potato crop but it ends with the breaking of every natural bond of human affection that binds a family and a nation together. Garry Hynes has directed all three plays, which add up to the most defining statement on the legacy of the great hunger and its cultural and historical echoes that it has ever been my privilege to witness.
First Murphy introduces us to the villagers of Glanconor, led by John Connor it’s proud patriarch (played with a pitch perfect slow burn intensity by Brian Doherty) who refuses to be victimized by the great hunger. But as the play progresses we see this man slowly ground to powder before out eyes.
The effect of seeing these three plays back to back is symphonic. It is also strangely heartening. For all that they record and commemorate the long, long shadow of the famine – they also stand as an eloquent witness and guidepost to our decades long struggle to step out of its shadow.
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