A Man of No Importance
Alex Wood | 25 Jul 2013 11:03am
I suspect that many Sardines readers will know of this musical about Alfie Byrne, a bus conductor in 1950’s Dublin where to be homosexual is a moral and social crime.
But as director Matt Gould says in his perceptive programme note, while even Catholic Ireland is a more tolerant place today, ‘!there are plenty of places and people who still don’t really accept that people should be allowed to be who they are. A Man of No Importance shows that there is no harm in allowing people to be who they are, and allowing them to love who they love.’ In addition to this, as an example of total theatricality, I think it is very hard to better this show.
James Franey was just right as the sensitive and uncertain Alfie. Robbie, his driver, friend and hoped-for lover was played with the necessary down-to-earth confidence by Rick Woska. Chloe Faine, as Alfie’s sister put in a fine performance, mixing comic moments with her impatience with her brother’s apparent lack of direction in life – the last line of her song ‘Tell Me Why’, after Alfie’s revelation of his sexuality, one of the most touching moments of the show. Against this, her gentleman friend and hoped-for future husband, Mr Carney, the butcher, played his part with the heavy handed gusto needed from this down-to-earth but ultimately bigoted man. The role of Adele Rice – the pregnant girl who has fled her town to escape from the same sort of moral censure that prevents Alfie from being himself – was played with just the right fragility by Sarah Shepherd. The piece relies heavily on a really good ensemble – they must be good singers, dancers and actors for the show to work. They were admirable – I especially liked the numbers In Dublin and Our Father – the latter choreographed to contrast the profane (the bar) and the sacred (the church). The song Art, with the well-meaning cast members of the St Imelda’s Players proudly presenting their off- key costume, publicity, lighting and props ideas to Alfie, was great comedy. I must note that the whole cast demonstrated a particularly high standard of singing and the accents were accurate (I commend SEDOS for seeking help with this often-overlooked aspect) and consistent.
Technically, I sensed one or two problems with lighting. And whilst the orchestra, led by Inga Davis-Rutter did full justice to the beautifully lyrical score, I thought some solo voices got lost when the full orchestra played. But in summary this was a very fine production of this very fine musical.
- : admin
- : 23/07/2013