Sunday, October 31, 2010

Theatre: Strike!

I used to dislike Irish history. It seemed very dull compared to the exciting and world-changing events of European and world history. Recently though I've started to find that theatre has made me more interested in our history. Sean O'Casey's The Silver Tassie meant a lot more to me when I saw it recenly than when I read it in school.

Strike deals with a relatively recent event. As the TCD Drama site says:

Dublin 1984
Economy failing
Unemployment rife
10 young women and one young man were about to change the world ...

In July a shop worker on Henry Street refused to sell South African fruit to a store customer and was suspended. Ten colleagues followed her out on strike; they thought it would last 2 weeks - it went on for nearly three years.

STRIKE! is a fictionalised account of the famous anti-apartheid shop strike on Henry Street.

The last play I saw in the Samuel Beckett Theatre in TCD was Medea - high on set production, low on emotional buy-in. Strike! is just the opposite: the set is simple (and at times a little am-dram) but the script and acting are good and engaging. If the aim of a play is to move the audience emotionally, Strike is unambiguously successful. It helps that the underlying subject matter is meaningful and has the potential for conflict.

The inclusion of brief monologues by South African characters is a good decision by writer and director Tracy Ryan, reminding the audience of the reasons for the struggle. Sure, the reasons are intellectually obvious, but it's good to see views of apartheid presented in the first person. Oh, and personally I just love good South African accents and these were pretty well done, particularly by the white anti-apartheid campaigner.

The cast is large and the Saturday matinee I went to was poorly attended; there must have been almost as many actors as viewers. This play is good and deserves more commercial success than that. If you've time, I'd recommend seeing it.

Strike runs until 6th November in TCD. It then opens on 9th November in Axis Theatre and continues until 13th November.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Dave - glad you enjoyed it :)