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.
This weekend sees the premiere and first ever Irish performance of The Clearing, a huge love story set in 1652, in the middle of Cromwell’s invasion and clearances of Ireland. Written by Helen Edmundson and directed by Jack Aherne, Brideview Drama is very pleased to present this very active and exciting drama.
Starring John Baldwin and Jan O’Sullivan in the key roles of young lovers, they are very ably assisted by Caitriona Howard, Rachel O’Connell, Alison Lewis, Donal Howard, Sean Ahern, George Peet, Colm Ahern and James Lenane.
The Clearing starts three years after the execution of King Charles I, following a long and bloody civil war. The Parliamentarian who was in the forefront of the anti-king struggle, Oliver Cromwell, is Lord-General and Commander in Chief of the Commonwealth and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The play’s three year span parallels a reign that embraced a policy of execution, forced relocation, and English colonialisation in Ireland.
With its pro-Irish point of view, and special strength of the three female characters, The Clearing gives audiences a character-rich story that engages hearts and minds of all ages.
At Tallow Community Centre this Friday and Saturday nights, 28 and 29 January, at 8.15PM, the play is stage managed by Judy Burton, with a beautiful, emotionally satisfying set designed by Mary Colette Sheehan.
The Clearing is all about Robert and Madeleine, who have dared to step beyond the boundaries of their daily lives in Ireland. Robert is swept off his feet by a gorgeous Irish woman, and his youthful sense of adventure allows him to go with it. Madeleine is much more connected to an ideology of life – she has seen the damage done to her family and to the Irish people by the perpetuation of mistrust and hatred, and she is determined that the cycle can be broken. The play explores personal and social struggles, as the characters do their best amidst battles over land, conflicts between religions, the things people caught in the middle do to survive, and how love needs always to conquer, no matter the cost.
Noted British director Polly Teale said, when her theatre company first performed the play to full houses and critical acclaim, that “The Clearing is an extraordinary achievement. It captures both a great sweep of history and the intricacies of a marriage between an Irish woman and an English man. We are made to feel the effect of history through the lives of the characters. Edmundson explores with great subtlety the way in which racial hatred springs from fear. We see how a fear of ‘the other’ lies at the heart of the play: the desire to crush or destroy what we cannot understand (and perhaps secretly yearn for). Madeleine represents everything the English could never allow themselves to be. She is passionate, sexual and unafraid of life. Robert is hugely drawn to Madeleine because she is so different to everything he knows.”
This is a big play with huge themes and a great find for Brideview Drama. All are welcome and the play is suitable for all the family. As always, Tallow Community Centre will be fantastically well heated, with lots of great refreshments on offer. Tickets are available on the door and all are welcome.