The Passion of the Playboy Riots, by Neil Weatherall
Review by Rick Alancroft
The play’s title is drawn from, The Playboy of the Western World by fellow Abbey director, J.M. Synge which in 1904 caused riots in the audience. The Passion of the Playboy Riots, is play that takes us on a whistle stop journey through significant periods in Irish history, but is suitably signposted for those that do not know the period too well. Fortunately it is well written so the drama on stage and the historical background do not clash but are cleverly interwoven. However, the very nature of a whistle stop means that the play may well have benefited from a longer running time, dependant on maintaining a tight script and developing a more in depth look at the relationships within the play and the Irish struggle for independence. Cameron Bell plays a sceptical producer while seamlessly telling us to switch our phones off at the beginning. Off stage he expertly voices all the characters that never actually appear before us. These off characters are in the plays watched and overheard by W B Yeats (Neil Weatherall), and Lady Gregory (Venessa Corradi) in the wings. Patrick Pearse (Justin McKenna), writer and at that time naïve revolutionary visits the pair. The acting, direction and design are excellent. There are no weak performances and The set is very simple and does not distract from the drama. Chapel Playhouse, which housed the London preview is a small intimate theatre which doesn’t have fixed seating, but it did serve its purpose well. The play is well worth seeing. It’s on at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August at PQA Venue 277.
© 2019 Rick Alancroft