By Brian Friel
Directed by Charlotte Moore
Set in County Donegal, Ireland in August of 1878, Christopher Gore and his son, David, along with their housekeeper, Margaret, live in the Lodge, the Gore family home. Christopher is a widowed land-owner from the “home place” of Kent, England. Both are in love with Margaret.
This is a time of insecurity as the nascent Home Rule movement re-emerges to restore self-government to the Irish.
Lord Lifford, a despised English landlord has just been murdered. (The Lifford killing is based on the actual murder of William Clements, 3rd Earl of Leitrim in April 1878.) This will send shock waves through the local community but worse is yet to come.
Christopher’s cousin, Richard, arrives planning to pursue a Darwin-inspired scientific theory. He seeks to prove that the cranium size of the native Irish can confirm their inferior place in the natural order. He will proceed to “measure” the locals for his research.
Christopher will be caught between loyalty to the locals and respect for his cousin whose racist
hypotheses will ignite the locals of Ballybeg.
Some familiar themes run through this thinly-veiled autobiography of the author –
Christopher’s perpetual yearning for “home” in England.
“The English in Ireland, we don’t speak the same language.”
“First time a Gore will marry ‘out.’” (English marrying an Irish woman)
An indifference (of the time) toward what amounted to racism.
The acting is right on target. I did, though, find it interesting that the only “Irishman” who sounded like he was from the Donegal area was Con, played by Johnny Hopkins.
Kudos to James Noone for excellent set design.
Running at Irish Repertory Theatre through November 19.
NEW YORK PHLHARMONIC
Paavo Järvi, Conductor
Leif Ove Andsnes, Piano
Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is now the 2017-18 Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic. Appearing this week, under the baton of Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi, he performed Rachmaninoff’s lesser-known Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor. Mr. Andsnes is low-drama, Nordic steel – just outstanding playing. His crystal clear notes are thrillingly concise.
The audience demanded an encore which he provided with Sibelius’s Impromptu in B minor.
The evening opened with Gambit by Esa-Pekka Salonen, an interesting piece that gave the percussionists a workout.
The finale was Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony, presented in a strong and straight forward manner.
The Finnish government commissioned this work to mark the composer’s 50th birthday in 1915, a fitting honor to the composer whose work fueled the nation’s independence.