Guerilla Days in Ireland: The Olympia Theatre – April 2 2013
Adapted and directed by Neil Pearson, Guerilla Days in Ireland tells the story of Tom Barry, volunteer Commander of the 3rd West Cork Flying Column who became renowned for his military knowledge and guerilla warfare tactics.
The play takes is through a time in Irish history from 1926, when Barry was in the British Army as part of the Mesopotamia Expedition to coming home to Ireland in 1919, right up to the signing of the Treaty.
The story is cleverly told through the older Tom Barry (Brendan Conroy), reflecting on his life, while a younger Tom Barry (Brian Fenton) provides us with the flashback scenes, incorporated almost like a television show. Alongside Michael Grennell and Jack Walsh, who make up the entire cast, yes, just four people, clever onstage props and dips in lighting, change characters from soldiers, Black and Tans, a barman, Eamon De Valera and Michael Collins. Very cleverly done. The direction of how the characters move on stage must also be noted, the soldiers marching when suddenly they seem to move in slow motion, not one of them out of beat.
The set itself is made up of Barry’s desk in the foreground, where he is writing his story. In the background are crosses where clothing of dead compatriots are placed. The mid section of the stage, is taken up by what resembles two stone walls.
Through Barry writing his book, he looks back at the human decisions he’s made, regrets he’s had, not just military and how some of these decisions still niggle at him.
This play has obvious appeal for an Irish audience and diaspora around the world. If the history element isn’t your thing, there’s still so much to enjoy with the actors’ versatile performances and the direction of ‘Guerilla Days’. This is a definite must see.
Stage photo from guerilladays.com