The Shadow of a Gunman – Review

Abbey Theatre

Dir: Wayne Jordan



To me, Sean O’Casey is a literary magician. Everything about his writing from his naturally poetic language and sharp social and political insights, to his shrewdly realistic characters and perfectly paced action make O’Casey one of my favourite playwrights.That declared,I can move on to this particular production which I can safely say went far beyond simply doing justice to O’Casey’s writing.

It is a difficult balance to pull-off, but the entire cast, and every element of the design in the show managed to walk that line between humour and horror, laughter and tension. Bringing the show truly to life, this balance kept the characters down to earth, engaging the audience as they find life’s everyday humour even in such times of danger and tragedy.

The lighting design by Sarah-Jane Sheils subtly keeps pace with the action, with some striking moments which highlight perfectly the underlying tension in the play. This light falls on an understated, yet complete and effective patchwork of a set designed by Sarah Bacon which captures that essential marriage of comedy and tragedy that makes this play what it is.

Inhabiting this design is the cast, whose performances all compliment each other and come together to create a strikingly real world upon the stage. The stand-out performance however, was without a doubt  Mark O’Halloran’s as Donal Davoren. From the moment the curtain went up, O’Halloran did not simply stand on the stage, he possessed it, even when silent or still.  O’Halloran’s performance was commanding and compelling, bringing the Davoren vividly to life.

Wayne Jordan’s The Shadow of a Gunman is a dynamic and potent production that draws its audience into the lives, hearts and minds of these inhabitants of this 1920s Dublin tenement with passion and perspicacity.

The Shadow of a Gunman runs until the 1st of August.

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