The Silver Tassie – reviews of 'astonishing' WWI drama

Apr 28, 2014

Critics praise National Theatre's 'remarkable revival' of Sean O'Casey's experimental anti-war drama

Catherine Ashmore

What you need to know 
A new production of Sean O'Casey's First World War drama The Silver Tassie has opened at the National Theatre, London. Howard Davies directs this experimental 1928 anti-war play by O'Casey, best known for his Dublin trilogy including Juno and the Paycock.

In The Silver Tassie Irish football hero and winner of the Silver Tassie cup, Harry Heegan, leaves his Dublin tenement for the nightmare of the trenches. When he returns for a football dance months later, his world has changed forever. Runs until 3 July.

What the critics like 
O'Casey's play is not quite like anything else and this "lavish, propulsive and acute" production is marvellous, says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. The cast excel at making disillusion, wit, rage and absurdism belong together in this remarkable revival.

Davies's thrilling production of this "astonishing" play has humour, craic and a darker side too, says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. It's an extremely odd and disconcerting play and a drama of exceptional power and originality.

"Davies brilliantly handles Sean O'Casey's blend of Dublin realism and expressionism," says Michael Billington in The Guardian. And the superb performances are perfectly in pitch with his directorial vision.

What they don't like 
Davies has done a superb job of appealing to all our senses but the play poses some problems that can't be overcome, says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. It jolts from one setting to the next, and while this may highlight the disorientating effects of war, "there's a fatal lack of story and psychological depth".    

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