BWW Review: The Abbey Theatre is JIMMY'S HALL

BWW Review: The Abbey Theatre is JIMMY'S HALL
The cast of the Abbey Theatre production of Jimmy's Hall. Directed by Graham McLaren.

The music and festivities of Jimmy's Hall are in full swing on stage as the audience take their seats at the Abbey and we are soon foot-tapping, head-nodding and clapping heartily along. The performance opens, closes, and is filled throughout with the inimitable Irish Ceilidh, an uninhibited celebration of wild dancing, lively music and memorable storytelling.

Jimmy's Hall is based on the true story of a tin barn built on a farm in Leitrim by Jimmy Gralton in the 1920s. His vision of a haven for the local community to congregate for music, dance and lively discourse is perceived as a menace by the local establishment, including the Catholic Church, then at the height of their influence in Ireland. The church soon wield their political influence to banish the 'revolutionary' Gralton from the country.

BWW Review: The Abbey Theatre is JIMMY'S HALL
Richard Clements in the Abbey Theatre production of Jimmy's Hall. Directed by Graham McLaren.

Following a 10 year hiatus in New York, Gralton returns home to help his mother with the family farm. He reopens Jimmy's Hall and his loyal friends promptly return amass. Music and dance resume amidst animated discussions. But it is short-lived and Gralton is soon on the run from authorities to evade being deported once more. History remembers him as the only Irishman to be exiled by his own country. On September 3rd, 2016, Gralton received a posthumous apology from President Michael D. Higgins; an excerpt of his stirring speech is featured during the performance.

Gralton's tale was immortalized on screen in 2014 by by filmmaker Ken Loach with Paul Lavery's film script adapted by Graham McLaren for the Abbey Theatre last year. This 2018 revival is a testament to its popular original run, with many of the cast reprising their former roles.

Richard Clements as Jimmy Gralton is the consummate leading man. He owns the stage, charming the audience with the same fervent charisma that earns him the loyalty of his comrades. His alluring leading lady Oonagh (Lisa Lambe), has the voice of an angel, her singing -- hauntingly melodious.

BWW Review: The Abbey Theatre is JIMMY'S HALL
Richard Clements and Lisa Lambe in the Abbey Theatre production of Jimmy's Hall. Directed by Graham McLaren.

Bosco Hogan and Donal O'Kelly played the dual caricatures of intolerant clergyman (Father Sheridan) and tyrannical father (Brendan) to perfection. Bríd Ní Neachtain was compelling as Jimmy's devoted mother, Alice. Her tender sean nós ballad tugged at the heart-strings.

BWW Review: The Abbey Theatre is JIMMY'S HALL
Bríd Ní Neachtain and Muiris Crowley in the Abbey Theatre production of Jimmy's Hall. Directed by Graham McLaren.

Director Graham McLaren's edgy stamp is evident throughout and his striking use of pyrotechnics was impressive. Musical director Michael John McCarthy led a jaunty ensemble of dextrous musicians whilst movement director Vicki Manderson peppered the exuberant traditional Irish dancing with rousing contemporary numbers.

Jimmy's Hall is a fitting metaphor for the role of theater today: a melting pot for creativity and free thinking, seldom shying from the provocative themes of politics, religion, sex, and gender. Celebrate Gralton's legacy whilst enjoying an invigorating evening of Ceilidh at Jimmy's Hall.

Jimmy's Hall runs at The Abbey Theatre until September 8th, 2018 and will then tour Ireland with performances in Limerick, Cork and Galway.

BWW Review: The Abbey Theatre is JIMMY'S HALL
The cast of the Abbey Theatre production of Jimmy's Hall. Directed by Graham McLaren.



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From This Author Jini Rooney

Jini Rooney is a performing arts patron, investor, entrepreneur and medical doctor. A fourth generation South African, Jini has lived and worked on 3 different (read more...)

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