I saw Christ nailed to a tree
In an East London churchyard
Weather-beaten from looking,
While the adjacent graveyard
Played host to a thousand
Sloping stone soldiers.
There, daffodils bunched together
And it made me wonder
Why the graveyard should display
Such a profusion of yellow
When the churchyard itself
Was barren of colour
I Finally saw THE SILVER TASSIE at The National Theatre last night. What a play, and what a performance! O’Casey’s great war play – or should that be anti-war play – has finally found its natural home.
Act one is set in a Dublin pub, where the victorious football team is celebrating their victory in the cup – the Silver Tassie of the title. Most of them are home on leave from the trenches and are having one last celebration before heading back to France.
Act two, whic…h is set in what appears to be a bombed-out Monastery, drips with symbolism, and the realism of act one has been replaced by a fantastical second one. The soldiers, battered and beaten by their experiences, cower among the ruins,trying to make sense of all the madness, seeming at times to be worshipping the huge gun which pokes its nose out at one corner of the stage. Whether the inference is that religion is as bad as war,or that it causes war, I couldn’t make my mind up,but that there is a clear link between them is certainly implied. The booming and flashing was quite alarming at times, never moreso than at the end of the act, when the huge gun is trundled centre stage, loaded and then pointed directly at the audience, resulting in another almighty bang and a flash that had me seeing stars momentarily.
Acts three and four deal with the aftermath; act three with with the gassed, the shell-shocked, the maimed and the blind trying to recover some kind of normality in hospital; act four at the celebratory dance at the football club where the story began. Here the wheelchair-bound footballer who had won The silver Tassie for the team and his blinded friend finally realise that for them life will never be the same. The ending is surreal, several girls dancing with their ‘scarecrow’ partners, falling down and picking them up,falling down and picking them up…
Brilliantly done and great writing. 5*****