I was at the National Theatre for the second night running, this time to see Seán O’Casey’s The Silver Tassie. This powerful anti-war drama premiered in 1928 and has rarely been seen since; this revival marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.
The play concerns Harry Hegan, a young and athletic soccer champion, who we first see about to head off to war. There is a powerful evocation of the war itself before we head into its aftermath: crippled and confined to a nursing home, Harry’s days of footballing glory are long behind him. Ronan Raftery gives a strong performance as Harry; also worthy of note is Judith Roddy, who is equally good whether preaching in Act I or acting as a flirty nurse in Act III.
The most impressive element of the play for me was the set of Act II, which transformed the run-down but realist Dublin tenement into a battlefield, with surreal and Expressionist performances from the soldiers. I’m not sure if I liked it or not, but it was certainly impressive.