Saturday, 6 August 2011

OBSERVE THE SONS OF ULSTER, Hoy Polloy, August 5, 2011

Observe The Sons of Ulster, Hoy Polloy *** 1/2
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • August 05, 2011 11:27AM 
OBSERVE THE SONS OF ULSTER MARCHING TOWARDS THE SOMME, Hoy Polloy, Brunswick Mechanics Institute, until August 13 

WE are surrounded by wars all over our globe, but Irish playwright Frank McGuinness confronts us with a moving snapshot of eight young men who face the prospect of death in Flanders during World War I.

His play, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, is a slice of tragic realism with splashes of comic relief.

These young soldiers from different classes and trades are all, it seems, Protestant, and most are bigoted against Catholics, despite the writer being Catholic.

We anticipate their bloody fate because the play opens with a long lament by the only survivor of the battle, the aged Kenneth Pyper (Ian Rooney) who is haunted by his fallen pals.

Although the acting is uneven and the accents slip occasionally, the cast and director Steve Dawson bring these doomed young men to life in an intimate way and we cannot help but think of other young men ruined by war or killed in pointless battles.

This is a play about friendship, love, survival, Irish identity and the futility of war.

Star rating: * * * 1/2

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