By Guest Blogger John Hartery
The Mary Kenny play Allegiance by Sásta Productions completed a two-night run at Garter Lane Waterford last evening as part of a nationwide tour.
The work is based on an imagined evening as Winston Churchill and Michael Collins meet in the drawing room of the Englishman's Hyde Park home. The meeting is set during the 1921 London talks when Collins and Arthur Griffiths were sent to represent Ireland in talks with the British Government. Scholars have pointed to De Valera absenting himself from the talks as a sign that he foresaw the inevitable outcome of partition.
The two characters are played, interestingly, by a father and son. Rory Moran Snr as the rotund Churchill and Rory Moran Jnr as Collins fresh from having a price on his head as he was pursued by the the Black Tans.
Over the course of the evening the two drink a lot, and trade arguments about Irish history and the Empire. They rarely touch on the detail or content of the negotiations bar the deadlocked items of The Oath of Allegiance and Ulster. The play is directed by Jason Byrne.
The Collins character in the play is one that is well-rounded and comfortable in an environment where he is alone and verbally sparring historical facts and and arguing successfully with a government minister. The Churchill character is well informed on Irish matters reflecting his time spent as a youngster in Dublin - he lived in Little Lodge in Phoenix Park, the house next door to the Viceregal Lodge where his grandfather, John Winston Spencer Churchill was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Here's an interesting radio documentary on that period . The character we saw was a gentle man softened by the recent death of his young daughter and not the implacable war leader that emerged a few decades later.
The humourless play lacked a degree of sublety that would be normal in a negotiation environment. There was little nuance that hints at concession of a negotiating position or one of the protagonists signalling a middle ground. Churchill led an extraordinary life and touched on a huge range of historical events. There was little in the Kenny's play that suggested why. Instead, he was drawn as a foil that constantly conceded to Collins' points
The conclusion was rushed and our history was sorted out in a few seconds.
Good acting, good production but not convinced by the script.