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Peppered with acrid wit and dark vaudeville humour, Sean O’Casey’s powerful, huge and rarely performed anti-war play of 1928 displays a jagged madness that belies its Dublin tenement setting and gives full expression to the horror and waste of war.
Ireland, World War One. Dashing Harry Heegan leads his football team to victory, arriving home in swaggering celebration before he grabs his kit and heads for the trenches. A nightmare world awaits. The men, reduced to cannon-fodder, speak in mangled incantations as the casualties stack up. Months later, Harry returns, a cripple at the football club party. Everyone but the shattered war veterans dances and forgets.
Dear mother, this helpless thing is still your son. Harry Heegan, me, who, on the football field, could crash a twelve-stone flyer off his feet.
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Photo (Ronan Raftery) by Jillian Edelstein