In the days leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916, life in Dublin was fraught with tension and filled with dread for the city’s woefully oppressed working class. That same tension and dread permeates “The Plough and the Stars,” Sean O’Casey’s 1926 play about the struggles of those Dubliners amid the violent swirl of the Easter week rebellion.
The Irish Classical Theater Company’s production of the play, directed by Derek Campbell and featuring a cast of 15, opens Friday in the Andrews Theatre (625 Main St.). It stars company regulars Vincent’ O’Neill, Josephine Hogan, Gerry Maher and Chris Kelly.
When the play opened in Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in 1926, it was met with riots from the supporters of the men who fought in the Easter Rising, largely women. The rioters were upset with the play’s juxtaposition of a speech by Patrick Pearse, a nationalist Irish leader and key proponent of the rising, with the acts of a common prostitute.
“We’re hoping for a similar result on Main Street,” O’Neill joked, adding that the show ranks as “one of the greatest plays of the 20th century” and “among the best two or three Irish plays ever.”
The play is the final part of O’Casey’s trilogy after his plays “Juno and the Paycock” and “The Shadow of a Gunman,” both of which have been previously produced by ICTC.
Tickets are $35 to $39, with a pay-what-you-can performance at 2 p.m. Saturday. Call 853-4282 or visit www.irishclassical.com.
– Colin Dabkowski