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Encamping an isolated army within four walls usually portends certain defeat. Tactical foolishness becomes a theatrical virtue in this immersive promenade drama set in 1922-1923, the Irish Civil War. It will be performed by his nine-member cast on and around the reconfigured Peacock stage in Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. hammam It draws us into the claustrophobic world of a group of republican radicals who occupied a hotel during the Battle of Dublin in July 1922.
Rejecting the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty as a betrayal of republican principles, anti-Treaty die-hards entered into a desperate siege with their former comrades in the newly established Irish Free State, supported by Britain. I realized that I was trapped in a battle. These doomed rebels also include several members of the Cumann na mban (‘Women’s League’), who are seen in a vividly disorganized changing room as a man takes glass out of a wounded soldier’s eye. He lamented the condescension of his commander.
“The soldiers didn’t let us stay here. We just stayed there,” said one veteran revolutionary, echoing the words of an actual veteran.
Lightly worn details like this testify to the depth of the underlying research and historical awareness. hammamwhich concludes a series of works about the Irish revolutionary period staged by the interdisciplinary company ANU over the past decade.
Owen Boss and Marie Kearns’ set meticulously recreates a hammam hotel and Turkish bath, down to the vintage glassware behind the bar and the flyers on the bulletin board. Much of the work’s surreal energy comes from the contrast between its subtly sordid setting and the puritanical zeal of its inhabitants.
In a haunting central sequence, we encounter an anguished young priest (Darr Feehely) standing naked in a submerged bathtub as he contemplates the shame of the suspension of canon law due to anti-Treatyist activity. Messianic overtones of the revolution resurface when the priest gives his final blessing to anti-Treaty commander Casal Bulga (Jamie O’Neill). Bruga quickly realizes that further resistance is futile and unable to adapt to political reality, and decides to suffer martyrdom by being gunned down by the enemy alone with a revolver in hand.
These agonizing musings are interspersed with expressionistic choreography, including Gaul Conroy’s mesmerizing tap dance atop a rickety door. The deft direction encapsulates the high-stakes intimacy of writer-director Louise Law’s 80-minute production. It also skillfully evokes the trampling of radical hopes, exemplified by the oppression of women in post-independence Ireland.
As we move through revolutionary times, ANU has developed a unique style that invests immersive theater forms with unparalleled intellectual and emotional weight. Attending a performance feels like being invited into a strange, time-warping communion where the past is always inherent in the present.
Nevertheless, the results risk becoming static.meanwhile hammam “” is another accomplished exploration of Irish history, and its technique and taut tone are starting to feel a little predictable. Now that the centenary of his revolutionary period of 1912-1923 has passed, there is plenty of room for the ANU to reinvent itself.
Until January 6th, abbey theater eye