The Clearing, Brideview Drama’s new play is on again this week and next, Thursday February 10, then Thursday and Friday, February 17 and 18, 8.15PM each night at Tallow Community Centre. After its great opening weekend, where this big historical drama was very well received, the show is now settling in very nicely and gives everyone the chance to see a love story set in one the most important periods of Irish history.
Jan O’Sullivan, John Baldwin and George Peet lead a big cast. The Clearing is set in seventeenth century Ireland, as Cromwell’s men systematically transport women and children, and force royalists off their lands. Robert Preston, a Cromwellian sympathiser disinherited in England but possessed of lands in Ireland, is married to Madeleine, an Irish woman. When Madeleine’s childhood friend, Killaine, is taken by English soldiers she pleads to the English governer, Sir Charles Sturman, for her release. Sturman’s cold response is to order Madeleine and Robert to be transplanted to barren Connaught, in the west of Ireland. The cast also includes, in very fine form, Colm and Sean Ahern, Donal Howard and Alison Lewis, Caitriona Howard and James Lenane.
Throughout the show (suitable for all ages) Jack Aherne, the director, explores the themes of conflict and how cultures differ from each other, even as they try to share the same land. The prosperous landowners of the play quickly become refugees when the English take over, and suddenly find themselves with their lives at risk. It is the inherent differences in the culture and upbringing of Robert and Madeleine that strain everyone’s relationship. Also, we see how fear drives people into choices and actions that appear to offer a short-term solution but, in the long run, have terrible and permanent consequences for all.
The Clearing is a rollercoaster of action and emotion and the cast and crew are very much enjoying the ride. The show sees a great addition to the crew in Martina Cullinane, who has taken on sound very professionally. She is also an accomplished photographer and it’s great she’s able to juggle school and theatre so well.
This is Brideview Drama’s ‘Festival play’ for 2011 and is being taken on tour to 7 competitions around Ireland next month. Romance, passion and treachery enhance this riveting work right up to its breathless final curtain as Englishman Robert Preston and his Irish wife, Madeleine, have a tempestuous relationship that leads to questions of patriotism and family loyalty.
With humour, love, drama, fighting, all sorts of action, a wonderful set with beautiful lighting, costumes absolutely right for the era, tight direction and a exciting story, The Clearing is a great night out.