Review: Lockout at The New Theatre

LibertyHallIf you’ve walked past Liberty Hall lately then you’ll have noticed the eye-catching depiction of the 1913 Lockout. Naturally with the Centenary last month, much was done to celebrate such an important part in the formation of the working class population of Ireland, and Dublin in particular.

Ann Matthews’ stage portrayal manages to find a delicate balance between looking at the wider picture of the politics and key figures in the lockout and the effects this period had on the individual within the working class.

Katie O’Kelly carries the audience through the trials of the lockout with her depiction of devoted wife and mother Ellen (based on Matthews’ own grandmother) while Ian Meehan and Patrick O’Donnell interrupt Ellen’s story with diatribes as James Larkin and James Connolly respectfully.

The power of public speech was a powerful vector during the lockout as with most protests or demonstrations, and these diatribes add momentum to Ellen’s family life disintegration. Remember that 1913 was a world without the virality of social media and public speeches were key in ‘rousing the masses’ and encouraging action. This is something that struck home particularly well and I think this is where a stage adaptation can be especially powerful – the passion and ferocity of the speaker really comes across in a small theatre as opposed to literature or cinema.

For a more personal take on the lockout and a realisation of the full impact this time had on working class Dublin, Lockout provides a sensitive and moving account of one person’s experiences which in reality accounts for the experiences of thousands.

Lockout finishes its sell out run in the New Theatre on Oct. 19.

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