Friday 30 September 2016

Review: At The Ford - A family conflict as viewed through a Greek-Irish prism

At The Ford, The New Theatre, Dublin

Katy Hayes

Published 30/09/2015 | 07:00

'This fine new play is a reminder that, whatever else happens in the world, modern theatre will never be able to repay its debt to the Greeks'
'This fine new play is a reminder that, whatever else happens in the world, modern theatre will never be able to repay its debt to the Greeks'

Writer Gavin Kostick has taken the Irish economic crisis as his theme and represented it with a family dynasty. He passes this material through a classical Greek-Irish prism to produce a fascinating drama of conflict and avarice.

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Three siblings have to sort out a family business which has been wrecked by the economic crash. Both parents have died tragically, leaving a tangled mess. Through an original recipe from their late mother, sold in the family pub, the Howth Harbour Fish Pie became the basis of their fortune.

Their father overexpanded in an attempt to become "the Ryanair of budget hotels", with disastrous consequences. There's a faint echo of the collapse of the Quinn family business.

Ferdia (Ian Toner) attempts to persuade his brother Colin (Aonghus Óg McAnally) to sign a document which will satisfy their creditors, although it means abject humiliation.

The brothers fight, physically and viciously. Their sister Morgana (Rachel O'Byrne) warns that one of them will end up in hospital.

Director Bryan Burroughs for Rise Productions successfully wrestles with the difficult physical demands of the text and gets excellent performances all round.

The title 'At The Ford' is an ominous reference to the three-day bloody duel between Ferdia and Cúchulainn which forms part of the Táin legend.

Alongside this Irish source material, various elements of Greek classical drama are to the fore: incest, malign uncles manoeuvring for position, hubris, and violent catharsis.

This fine new play is a reminder that, whatever else happens in the world, modern theatre will never be able to repay its debt to the Greeks.

Irish Independent

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