I had the great pleasure of attending the opening night of The Cripple of Inishmaan at The Gaiety on Tuesday night, Druid Theatre‘s latest touring production.
At their 35th birthday celebration in Galway last year they included a scene from The Cripple of Inishmaan in their series of vignettes of their work and it was the one that for some reason stood out the most. Since hearing that they were taking it to the stage again I’ve been looking forward to seeing it and I’m thrilled to say it lived up to my expectations and more last night.
The story is based in the 1930s on Inis Meáin – the middle of the three Aran Islands. Cripple Billy is a bright young man tormented moreso by the boredom of island life than his physical ailments, something I think that will strike a chord with anyone who grew up in a remote part of Ireland.
An orphan since he was a newborn, Billy was brought up and lives with his two aunties, shopkeepers of the local grocery who are an absolute hoot. Billy dreams of a life beyond the Aran and beyond captivated by the story of how his parent’s boat sank as they tried to make it to the mainland en route to America.
But any mention of leaving the island let alone the country is shot down by his aunties who fear he does “too much of that – thinking”. When news of a film company coming to the main island from America reaches him Billy hatches a plan to get there in the hope of going to America to be a movie star.
It’s a wonderful story – heart-breaking, warm, full of characters and a side-splitting witty script with some very unexpected twists. Of course being a Druid production the cast is simply top notch with the talented young Tadhg Murphy in the role of Billy, Liam Carney as BabbyBobby and Claire Dunne as the feisty cailín Slippy Helen.
Now playing in Dublin until March 5th, Druid will be touring the production across the USA, Galway city at the end of June and ending in Inis Meáin on June 26th.
Tickets are available via Ticketmaster or the Gaiety box office.