Don’t be fooled. THEATREclub’s It’s Not Over is not a straightforward adaptation of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars – perhaps not even an adaptation, but a reimagining. THEATREclub has always specialised in the unconventional and aims to challenge. Last year’s production of The Game, which was written and performed in conjunction with former and current sex workers and geared towards commenting on the reality of life for many of those involved in the sex industry, was a clear demonstration of this ideological and aesthetic ethos.
After this year’s (frankly tiring) plethora of Easter Rising-themed productions and events staged within the fields of theatre, music, literature, art and cinema to celebrate the centenary of the rebellion, it seems only reasonable that a fresh look be taken within the arts at the very nature of such celebrations as much as at the event they purport to eulogise. THEATREclub is not seeking to celebrate the Rising; rather, it is attempting to shed light on the reality of the violence that the Rising entailed, the very violence which is, at best acclaimed and at worst mythologised in more official, state-sanctioned productions.
Therefore, their choice of O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars does not surprising. Controversial at the time of its initial performance, The Plough and the Stars is a play that throws into sharp relief the hollowness of ideology and the insidious effect of rhetoric on the minds of those that subscribe to them. The themes of heroism and national liberation make uncomfortable bedfellows when attached to the real legacies of violence and political extremism which have left Irish society deeply riven. Bloodshed and lives lost are a reality of any war, no matter how glorified or celebrated it becomes in the years following its aftermath.
Instead of human lives, the bodily slaughter depicted on stage is that of a deer. At four and half hours’ long, it feels slightly laboured, but perhaps this, too, is intentional. If indeed the bloody reality of Ireland’s history is to be accurately portrayed, this production just might be it.
A previous version of this article misrepresented the cast of It’s All Over. The cast is made up of professional dancers, actors and writers.
The article incorrectly accredited The Game. It was devised by Gemma Collins, Grace Dyas and Lauren Larkin (all from THEATREclub) with Rachel Moran, Mia deFaoite and other women who have exited prostitution and women currently involved in sex work. the piece was performed by professional actors Gemma Collins and Lauren Larkin.