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Good Evening, Mr Collins

By Tom MacIntyre

“The will of the majority will be ignored. Ponder that. Ponder on it.” So says the De Valera character, repeatedly, as he walks around the auditorium before taking the stage at the beginning of the justly acclaimed hit at last year’s Dublin Theatre Festival, Good Evening, Mr Collins, now revived at The Peacock before going on a national tour.









It is impossible to do justice to such a richly complex and hilariously funny piece in such a limited space, since there is so much going on in every scene worthy of comment. One of the remarkable things about Tom Mac Intyre as a playwright is that, while he is a wonderful wordsmith, there is as much attention to the visual in his work as to the verbal. Three of the more surreal but revealing images from the play, chosen at random, which made an impression on this spectator, are Dev playing a schoolmaster giving his pupil Collins a class about Machiavelli’s The Prince, Kitty Kiernan fellating a hurley stick, and Dev dressed in an Indian Chief’s head-dress.
This ‘good evening’ is a combination of a great script by Mac Intyre, subtle, thoughtful, perfectly timed direction by Kathy McArdle, and bravura performances by the cast, particularly the three leads, Sean Rocks as Collins, Karen Ardiff as the three women in his life, (Moya Llewellyn-Davies/Kitty Kiernan/Hazel Lavery), and Pat Kinevane as De Valera.
The current immense interest in Collins is an interesting phenomena, as is the dialectic relationship between him and De Valera in bringing about the birth of this state. Collins has been seen as the compromiser who subsequently became the man of violence, Dev as the one who refused to do business with the British government yet who subsequently adopted constitutional means. This play contributes to and transcends the revisionist debate, and will be interesting to compare with Neil Jordan’s forthcoming film. “Ponder that. Ponder on it.”

First published in 46A









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