‘Cromwell’ started off as a joke. We were touring Ireland a couple of years ago with another of my plays ‘On Raglan Road’, and had just played in Dingle, Co. Kerry, where I had purchased a new biography of Oliver Cromwell’s time in Ireland. When somebody asked what my next play was going to be I replied ‘Cromwell The Musical’. Everybody laughed, including myself, but over the next few months there were several (joking) questions about ‘how is the musical coming on’, and I thought ‘ maybe I will surprise them all’. I did surprise them – myself included – by actually writing – and finishing – it!
To Hell or to Connaught: that’s where Oliver Cromwell plans to send all Irish Catholics.
(The province of Connaught being perceived as little more than a collection of bogs and rocks, and of little use to English land-grabbers)
The year is 1649 and Oliver Cromwell is on the rampage in Ireland. His mission is to quell the Irish Catholic rebellion, with its growing support for English Royalists. Failure could mean a new Civil War in England. Not that he countenances failure; he has seen a vision – he truly believes he has God on his side.
Ireland’s only hope is Owen Roe O’Neill and his Ulster Army. O’Neill is a veteran of the Spanish Wars and is recognized as Ireland’s greatest soldier. Cromwell plans to ensure he doesn’t leave Ulster.
We see his journey through Ireland through his own eyes, those of his Puritan soldiers, and of two girls, Emir and Eithne, who, having been captured at the battle of Drogheda, are now being forced to work in the kitchens before being shipped off as slaves to the West Indies.
Emir is hiding a big secret; she is a spy for Owen Roe O’Neill’s Ulster army, She plans to poison Cromwell, little knowing that Cromwell’s own agents have a similar plan for O’Neill.
When Eithne is raped by one of the Puritan soldiers, both plan to escape and join the defenders at Limerick, where O’Neill’s Ulster army is making a last desperate stand.
PERFORMED IN MODERN DRESS – WITH A SPRINKLING OF MUSIC!