Last month, I had the pleasure of going to the infamous Abbey Theatre for the first time was undescribable, courtesy the Abbey inviting bloggers. I know a lot of the history of the Abbey in the ether of my mind as I wrote an essay and gave a presentation about it a few months ago, especially when decades ago the Abbey was expanding onto the former site of a morgue and discovered a body or two. The size of the theatre was quite intimate allowing the actors to break the fourth wall and connect to the audience much more so than other theatres where you may feel like a simple ticket number.
The play was ‘The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant‘ written by Tom Murphy which was simply fantastic, although this evening is the final performance. I had the preconceived notion that it would be something along the lines of ‘The Field’ and to some degree I was expecting it to feature a patriarchal figure rather than Arina (Maire Mullen), the diminutive woman with the moniker of a “tyrant”. It echoes of King Lear when Arina divides the land between her children but tries to keep a measure of power. Needless to say the empire she has forged from nothing and spent her entire life creating may easily crumble in the hands of a master manipulator.
I knew when I heard the title of the Earl of Rochester’s poem ‘The Imperfect Enjoyment’ and the opening lines being bawled, I expected the characters to display lewd actions and they delivered. Although at the interval, someone said the scene was outrageous and almost pornographic, obviously they were unaware that the scene consisted of a literary poem.
The tenacity and defiance at the climax of ‘The Last Days of A Reluctant Tyrant’, caused tears to flow freely down my face, I didn’t even particularly cry in a pretty manner. 🙂 I’ve read the play several times since seeing it on stage but the climax never fails to evoke my emotions, especially in the final soliloquy. This play has earned its place in being my favourite and I’ll be definitely keeping an eye on other events at the Abbey Theatre.