Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: The Country Girls

Back in the 1960s the publication of Edna O'Brien's The Country Girls was, so I'm told, something of a sensation and a scandal, telling as it did the story of Ireland's transition from a traditional Catholic, rural society to a more urban and sexually aware one. The book has now been adapted for the stage by the author, and the play is running in the Gaiety Theatre.

Here's how the Gaiety describes it:
The Country Girls tells the story of Kate and Baba, two girls who have spent their childhood together in rural Ireland. Leaving their sheltered convent school in search of life and love in the big city, they struggle to maintain their tumultuous relationship. Kate, dreamy and romantic, yearns for true love; while Baba wants to experience the life of a single girl. They set out to conquer the world together but as their lives take unexpected turns, including Kate’s romantic encounter with Mr. Gentleman, the girls must ultimately learn to find their own way.

That's a fair and accurate summary of the play, although the website also says the play is "truly contemporary". Well no, it isn't. The archetypes of the past - stern old nuns, Catholic schoolgirls, drunken fathers - are still familiar to us, but attitudes to romance and sex have quite clearly moved on, so much so that even the newer, rebellious relationships of the main characters now look dated.

Fortunately a play doesn't have to be contemporary to be good or enjoyable. The play is well cast and well acted; it's easy to empathise with the protagonist, Kate, played by Holly Browne.

It's a cliché to say I was left wanting more, but I mean it as both a compliment and criticism. I enjoyed the play, but the conclusion - for all that it made sense - felt a little underwhelming, as if it could have been the end of an act instead of an entire play. An entertaining play, but unremarkable.

Rating: 3/5

The play continues until Saturday 12th November. Tickets cost from €15.


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