With their last production, Irish Rep went "Wilde" over Oscar's Happy Prince, now the New York based, Irish theatre company switches gears from puppetry to poetry with Sean O'Casey's The Shadow of a Gunman, beginning performances at The Rep on April 6 for an open ended run beginning April 15.
Set against a turbulent background of 1920's Dublin, Gunman features a pauper poet, Donal Davoren, who doesn't admit the truth about his profession (or lack thereof) when a young girl mistakes him for a gunman on the run. Donal's failure to face the truth about his decidedly non-romantic life leads to tragedy.
Irish Rep Artistic Director, Charlotte Moore helms a cast including Terry Donnelly, Rosemary Fine, John Keating, Michael Judd, Aedin Maloney, Declan Mooney, Denis O'Neill, Ciaran O'Reilly and Sean Power.
O'Casey, a cornerstone playwright of any Irish theatre group, was born in 1880 and lived through a bitterly hard boyhood in a Dublin tenement house (much like the one portrayed in Gunman). He never received a formal education but taught himself to read at age fourteen. After stabs at various professions, O'Casey became enchanted with the plays of Shakespeare and Dion Boucicault, motivating him to try his hand at scribing plays of his own. The tense tragedy of Gunman (1923) foretold themes O'Casey would continue to explore with classics like 1924's Juno and the Paycock, and The Plough and the Stars (1926).
Founded in 1988 by Moore and O'Reilly, Irish Repertory Theatre took a big leap four years ago when they moved into their charming, jewel-box home The W.Scott McLucas Theatre on West 22nd St. Among their most notable productions have been a Harold Prince-directed Grandchild Of Kings, the Tony Walton-directed Importance Of Being Earnest, The Irish...And How They Got That Way, and Brian Murray starring in Da. Recent mountings have included The Shaughraun and a puppet version of Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince. For tickets or more information, call (212) 727-2737.
-- By Sean McGrath