THE SILVER TASSIE by Sean O’Casey | London, National Theatre

Stale staging, clunky scene changes and disappointing performances might have left Howard Davies’ production of the 1920s WWI drama face down in the mud, but it’s a testament to O’Casey that his bold, sinewy speech feels as wild today as it did a century ago.

The four-act play follows Harry Heegan (Ronan Raftery) from the heights of local hero and three time silver tassie winner, through the trenches, to his cripplng return. O’Casey’s expressionism teeters more often on the edge of absurdism and it’s a pleasure to witness one of the fore-fathers of Irish tragedy at his best. Stephen Kennedy and the often impeccable Aidan McArdle gave admirable performances as their buffoonish Simon and Sylvester – clear prototypes of the Vladimir and Estragon pairing – but no matter how hard they laughed or how loud they stamped they couldn’t seem to find a rhythm.

This was the story of the night; the materials were all there for a sublime theatrical event but the show ultimately failed to deliver. Regardless, for the text alone, for O’Casey’s poetic mastery, it is definitely worth your time and money.

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