The Shadow of a Gunman (1989)

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Poster by Poster Designer

by Seán O'Casey

Produced and Directed by Russell Sanderson

Performances: Sun 2nd – Sat 8th July 1989, Bell Theatre


A seedy room in a tenement in Hilljoy Square, Dublin. May, 1920.




  • 'Gunman's sure aim really hits the spot'.
  • 'Without apology for the pun, I declare that SLT has scored a hit with its July production of 'The Shadow of a Gunman (1989)'.

This powerful and moving classic of the Irish Theatre, by Sean O'Casey, can be seen for the remainder of this week at the Bell Theatre. It is hard enough for English actors to pass muster in the Irish brogue without sounding stagey or patronisingly comic. Harder still is the creation of the tense mood of those far off times of the Troubles nearly 70 years ago. It is, then, greatly to the credit of director Russell Sanderson and his acting team that they have given us a production as taut as a piano wire yet imbued with the rich vein of humour with which the fundamentally tragic text is flavoured. Running like a thread through the evening is the uneasy relationship between the poet, Donal Davoren, and his room mate, Seamus Shields, whose cowardly religiosity counterbalances Donal's elegant futility. Keefe Browning's Donal, sensitive but ineffectual, acts like a sad descant to the robust melody of John Lyne, in a (sic) well studied a character as he has given us in recent times. Showing an easy fluency in the idiom, he spreads a patina of comic bluster over the proceedings, whining and complaining, heaping the blame on the whole country while cunningly deflecting any from himself, and never at a loss to take advantage of O'Casey's splendid writing. There is a wealth of humour in Dennis Packham's portrayal of the drunken lodger, Adolphus Grigson, little more than a cameo but a memorable one, and supported in a minor key by Eva O'Rourke as the timid wife. Without any histrionics, Debby Kane emphatically stamps her mark on the role of the doomed Minnie Powell, ironically described by Seamus as a Helen of Troy come to live in a tenement. Other performances to watch come from Roland Jobson as the excitable Tommy Owens, Danny Baker as the brutal auxilliary and Robert Silver and Kait Feeney in a most effective double act as Mr Gallogher and his sidekick Mrs Henderson. Marshall Penn and Iain Jackson make brief contributions, each of which add its mite to the fabric of the total design.

Donald Madgwick The Advertiser July 7th 1989


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