Hannah Connally, Tony Harris, & Rena Brown in Deidre. Photo by Polina Shafran.
Tales from the Hills: Two Irish Stories
Deirdre By W.B. Yeats
In the Shadow of the Glen By J.M. Synge
Adapted and directed by Martin French and Polina Shafran
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2017 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
Dynamic relationships between men and women are explored in Tales from the Hills. The Chamber Theater uses brilliant prose and verse from Irish writers W.B. Yeats and J.M. Synge to produce a unique night of theater. The two one-act plays salute Ireland’s finest writers and bring contemporary issues to the stage with a broad range of storytelling.
Yeats’ Deirdre is first up. Based on myth, this story of sorrow, sex, and power carried plenty of drama and energy enough to fuel a full-length play. As the tragic heroine, Hannah Connally’s Deirdre is a victim of social construct beyond her control. Connally provides a thoughtful and thought-provoking performance that makes one reflect on the multitude of current scandals occurring in Hollywood. Tortured and distressed by assault, Connally brings intelligence to Deirdre’s fear as she finds an unfortunate resolution.
As Deirdre’s foe and predator, Conchubar, Sean Childress is a truly unlikeable villain. Childress delivers a meaty performance as the covetous and conniving king who is driven by libido. Tony J. Harris’ performance as Deirdre’s newlywed husband brings an innocent juxtaposition to Childress’ king. Dressed in white, Harris’ performance is forlorn and tragic with the hope of newfound love. Rena Brown rounds out the cast as Fergus, with a dynamic portrayal of a witness to the king’s behavior. Though Fergus justifies, explains, and ignores Deirdre’s fears and feelings, Brown is sure to bring a strong change of heart as she witnesses the tragedy.
The second play serves up lighter fare with In the Shadow of the Glen. This comedic story about dead bodies that aren’t dead yet is accentuated by broad humor, sight gags, and a little bit of bawdiness for good measure. As a drunken tramp, Gerry Rose flexes his comedic muscles as he attempts to keep a corpse dead with not-so-subtle discretion. Rich Williams is direct and to the point as Dan, with his moments of liveliness and corpse-like stillness. Williams does well to avoid any kind of flamboyancy but rather comes to life with rather human (for like of a better word) intentions. Marcy Ziegler is gropey as Dan’s would-be widow, Nora. A woman with certain ‘appetites’, Ziegler brings out a carnal quality to Nora as she seeks the attention of different men in the glen. Vidalia Unwin rounds out the cast as Michael, Nora’s younger love interest. When matched against Dan’s frustration toward the young, Unwin’s comedic talent shines through with sardonic snark and a little bit of mischief and mockery as well.
The night of one-acts features three poems by Yeats and Synge, which include Fallen Majesty, Queens, and Prelude, recited by Cate Willard and Clare Hagan. Interwoven between acts, the poetic moments add romantic notions and imagery to a production as spirited as the hills of Ireland.
Tales from the Hills: Two Irish Stories
November 10, 11, 16, 17 & 18 @ 7:30pm
Tickets are $15 and $12, with season tickets also available.
Available via: tickets.thechambertheatre.com
The Chamber Theater
At Hope Community and Coffee
Mellewood Art Center
1860 Mellewood Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!