THE COLLEEN BAWN
by Dion Boucicault
Directed by Zoë Seaton
Big Telly's revival of The Colleen Bawn is a perfect marriage of the physical ensemble style for which the company is known coupled with one of Ireland's most popular plays. This classic tale of love and intrigue across the classes in 19th-century Ireland featured a gallery of distressed damsels, landed gentry and roguish peasantry performed by a cast of just eight. This high energy theatrical event was a spirited revival full of action, spectacle and physical comedy which offered N. Ireland's audiences a rare chance to see one of this country's best-loved classics. The company also ran an access programme to introduce younger audiences to classic work.
Melodrama set near Lake Killarney. Mrs. Cregan attempts to save her family's impoverished estate by encouraging a marriage between her son Hardress and his wealthy cousin Anne Chute. Hardress, although secretly wed to the lovely peasant girl Eily O'Connor, makes advances to Anne to save his estate. One night Anne mistakes Hardress, as he sets off across the lake to visit Eily, for her lover Kyrle Daly; in a fit of pique at Kyrle's apparent duplicity and on learning of the Cregans' financial plight the next day, she agrees to marry Hardress. Danny Mann, Hardress's evil servant, hearing about Eily, pretends to take her across the lake to meet Hardress and tries to drown her lest she prevent the wedding. At that moment Danny is shot by Myles na-Coppaleen, a rogue whose former love for Eily, though vain, still endures. Meanwhile, as the wedding of Hardress and Anne is about to take place, police officers accompanied by the dying Danny intrude; Danny falsely accuses Hardress of killing Eily. Just then, Eily appears, having been hidden after her rescue by the loyal Myles. Finally, Mrs. Cregan accepts Eily as her daughter, Anne and Kyrle are reconciled, and Anne saves the Cregan estate by paying off the mortgage.