A RAW and impassioned perform-ance by Jon Kenny in the role of ‘The Bull’ McCabe has prompted speculation that the County Limerick man passed out during a performance of The Field in Charleville.
However, according to the popular actor, the ‘moment’ was not health-related, but was instead all part of the “dramatic content” of the John B Keane classic.
The Bruff-based actor drew gasps of awe from the 102-strong audience when he vividly re-enacted the murder scene from the famous play. But, for some, the awe was replaced by worry when Kenny lay down beside his on-stage victim under the black skies at the back of the Schoolyard Theatre in Charleville last Thursday night.
Speaking to the Leader prior to the performance Jon said he wanted to offer audiences a different take on the character of ‘Bull’ McCabe.
“I think he can be depicted in a very clichéd kind of way –very angry and very violent. For me, I think there is more to him,” said Jon.
“There is a bit of redemption in us all, maybe there was some in The Bull. I’m not saying there is – that’s for the audience to make their mind up. I know the way I want to play him, and people have said it to me also, that it is quite different to any way he has been played before.”
Kenny’s powerful performance in the lead role was backed up by a stellar 16-strong cast from the Shoestring Theatre Company.
“There wasn’t a weak link to be found,” commented Billy Keane – son of the late John B – who made the trip from Listowel with his sister Joanna to see the performance.
Set in Mick Flanagan’s public house in the village of Carrickthomond in the South West of Ireland, the Kevin O’Shea directed production transported audience members back to an Ireland of 1965 with little set design touches such as a portrait of John F Kennedy behind the fire place and an old style cash register.
While the play focuses on man’s hunger to protect what he believes is rightfully his – in this case a parcel of land – and the extreme lengths he will go to do that, the production managed to elicit several laugh-out-loud moments, thanks in no small part to the performance of Martin Hennessy in the role of the simple, yet conniving, Bird O’Donnell.
The character of publican/auctioneer Mick Flanagan came so easy to John Fraher, it was as if he strolled down from one of the bars or auctioneers in Charleville and was told to play himself.
Katie Holly in the role of Mamie, his undervalued wife, was another star performer.
“I’d say if John B was here, that’s exactly how he would like the play to be produced and acted,” commented Billy Keane on his feet after the audience gave a standing ovation for the performance.
“It was superb. I’m sort of spellbound by it – the passion that Jon Kenny put into it, and the whole cast.
“It’s an incredible achievement when you think of the talent that is out there and you can get them all into Charleville, into a small town. But I suppose it’s probably the ideal setting because these are the kind of places that he wrote about. It was stunning.”
The fact that the murder scene was outdoors, Billy said added to the realism.
“It was incredible to watch. Usually the murder scenes in plays aren’t quite as realistic as they are in movies but this was terrifying.”
The Field runs this Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 8.15pm.
Tickets are priced at €15 and €12.50 for OAPs and students. Contact 087-2530955 for bookings.
By Aine Fitzgerald