Drama Festival Opens: The Cripple of Inishmaan

THERE ARE quite a number of challenging plays being performed at the Thurrock Drama Festival so it was fitting that Stageability kicked off with The Cripple of Inishmaan.

Set on a remote island off the west coast of Ireland in 1934, The Cripple of Inishmaan is a strange comic tale in the great tradition of Irish storytelling. As word arrives on Inishmaan that the Hollywood director Robert Flaherty is coming to the neighboring island of Inishmore to film Man of Aran, the one person who wants to be in the film more that anybody is young Cripple Billy, an unloved boy whose chief occupation has been gazing at cows and yearning for a girl who wants no part of him.

So he is determined to cross the sea and audition for the Yank, and as news of his audacity ripples through the rumor starved community, it becomes a merciless portrayal of a world so comically cramped and mean-spirited that hope is an affront to its order. Filled with a cast of extraordinary characters and unexpected plot turns, The Cripple of Inishmaan promises to take the audience along on Cripple Billy’s crazy journey of hope and discovery.

The key to the success of this performance was Kevin Hind’s portrayal of Billy. Convincing, emotional and incisive was how we would describe it. It would have been very easy to lapse into some cod-oirishness but Kevin’s performance showed great discipline throughout.

If there was a criticism it was that the play didn’t convey the right degree of authenticity. Some things seemed a little too clean, whereas this was Ireland after the Great Depression.

However, a great team effort with strong support from Andrew Steel as well and tight direction by Gary Sullivan.

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