The Plough And The Stars

Dublin's Abbey Theatre revisits Ireland's violent political past with powerful new production

Presented by Abbey Theatre
Written by Sean O'Casey
Directed by Sean Holmes

Ian-Lloyd Anderson (Jack Clitheroe) and Kate Stanley Brennan (Nora Clitheroe). Photo by Ros Kavanagh.

Sean O'Casey's 1926 play The Plough and the Stars gets a fresh staging in Abbey Theatre's new production directed by Sean Holmes, now playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre with the support of Canadian Stage. The production comes as part of the Abbey Theatre's "Waking the Nation" season, which commemorates the centenary of the 1916 Easter Risingthe armed action of the Irish revolutionary period.

In The Plough and the Stars, O'Casey explores this violent time through the eyes of the residents of a Dublin tenement shelter. At the heart of the story are the ClitheroesJack (Ian-Lloyd Anderson) and Nora (Kate Stanley Brennan)a married couple torn apart by Jack's involvment in the fighting. They are surrounded by family and neighbours, including Nora's uncle Peter Flynn (James Hayes), a provocative young socialist named Covey (Ciaran O'Brien), the gossipy Mrs. Gogan (Janet Moran), and Fluther (David Ganly), the local drunk, to name a few. Burdened by poverty and sickness, each member of the community copes in their own way as war rages around them. Perhaps the most interesting journey is that of Bessie Burgess (Hilda Fay), a bitter woman who's son fought on behalf of Britain in the First World War. She is set apart from the others in her resentment of the Irish Republicans, yet ultimately sacrifices to help Nora in her time of need.

Featuring a stark, modern set, rock music and a mix of historical and contemporary costumes, Holmes' production constantly reminds us of the past's presence in society today. Many of the same struggles exist, in Ireland and across the globe, as war destroys the lives of innocent people. Abbey Theatre brings this point home with an emotionally raw and disturbing production. O'Casey's text moves effortlessly between comedy and tragedy. The dialogue can an be repetitive at times, and a few of the characters come across as one-dimensional, however, the sum of all parts equals a powerful piece of theatrical realism. A slice of life from a dark age that Toronto audiences will not want to miss.

The Plough and the Stars runs until September 18, 2016 at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2016-09-14 - Sun, 2016-09-18
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