The Patrick Pearse Motel (1975)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Hugh Leonard

Directed by Leslie Lidyard

Performances: Sun 4th - Sat 10th May 1975, Theatre


Act I The living room of Dermod and Grainne Gibbon in Foxrock - a suburb in vodka and bitter lemon belt. a winter's evening.

Act II Scene 1 The Motel. Fifteen minutes later. Scene 2 The same. A few minutes later.

Time - the present.





After the last production, I had high hopes for their latest offering. So maybe it was my fault that I came away disappointed - not at the acting but at the play.

The plot was shallow, the jokes predictable and the language a little bit strong when it needn't have been.

All farces risk becoming ridiculous and unfunny. This one has those misfortunes.

The author, Hugh Leonard, has been described as the latest in a line of Irish playwrights which runs Sheridan, Wilde, Shaw, O'Casey.

(Uncredited newspaper.)


Perhaps it is only when the Irish laugh at themselves that we feel it right to laugh with them. And there is no contemporary Irish playwright with whom we laugh more heartily than Hugh Leonard.

His humour is deadly but quite without malice. He chides his people, like a fond but exasperated parent, for their deep religious conservatism and their obsessive reverence for national heroes.

Both themes are well to the fore in "The Patrick Pearse Motel", which is concerned with the desperately serious business of adultery in a land ruled by saints and martyrs.

The Christian names Demod, Grainne, Fintan, Niahm - are Hiberian to the core. The humour leaps out at us with unexpected variants of old clichés. "The night is still a pup!" exclaims Grainne, as she gleefully prepares for her first-ever infidelity. The victim - he has to be a victim: it is one of the rules of Irishness - is a TV personality who has only to whistle for a bevy of beauties to come running.

But Mr Leonard, for all his rare qualities, is hardly a master of farce; and farce is the chosen convention of this play. The dashes in and out of bedrooms (all named after Irish heroes) are in the end self-defeating, a fact which the producer Leslie Lidyard, for all his careful plotting, did not mange to conceal.

I commend the production for its pace and its exuberant sense of fun, but it remains even though in the best sense, an imitation. The accents are commendable, but somehow not quite right. The nearest to authenticity is Dennis Packham's Fintan Kinnore, a riotously uxorious businessman moved to righteous anger when it seems his wife is two-timing him.

Pam Lyne, as his wife Niahm, has a nice feeling for the gentle revolt of the submissive cow-woman she is supposed to be, and Ruth Shettle plays her friend Grainne with a cool determination masking the underlying futility of her resolve to become at last a sinful woman, like her English cousins over the water. It won't work but hard luck all the same.

John Lyne leaves us in no doubt as to why she bothers, presenting as he does a husband whose sacred substance is money. Brian Scoltock produces some amusing foolery, while lacking the higher voltage of a TV idol. Hazel Edwards plays a sex-obsessed English girl with single-minded resolve, and Charles Cheetham as an entrancing old derelict washed up from the troubles of '16.

Donald Madgwick, in The Croydon Advertiser.


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