Corcadorca has really pushed the boat out in this, the Cork-based company’s 25th year, by staging an ambitious site-specific production at Elizabeth Fort of a play written by Patrick McCabe, with collaboration from the company’s artistic director, Pat Kiernan and composer Mel Mercier.
Episodic rather than having a linear narrative, it sits well in the Barrack Street site that played a role in the War of Independence and has history going back to the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland. It’s a huge site that gets wrapped in sound, including De Valera’s cosy homestead speech and a sometimes ominous score from Mercier.
The audience is first led along a lengthy and high passageway which affords a magnificent view of Cork city at dusk, and looks down on the fort.
At ground level, the audience walks past a number of houses in which members of the cast can be glimpsed through windows as they play music, do the ironing, etc. Passing by one of the houses, you spot John Hinde’s iconic photograph of a red head and a donkey carrying turf. It’s a clichéd vision of Ireland.
The play also challenges some of the clichés of Ireland’s past, and it sometimes takes an odd turn, such as a mother boasting to the neighbours about her daughter’s career as a drug mule. This deluded mother is in thrall to celebrity culture, citing a new reality TV show, Celebrity Mules on Tour.
There are several surreal moments, not least when a live cow is led into the courtyard.
When we hear Dana singing the Eurovision-winning song, All Kinds of Everything, we see how this busy work is a cornucopia of all sorts of everything to do with Ireland.
Sacrifice at Easter has all the hallmarks of a lively brain storming session where everything from the Troubles and abuse in the industrial schools, to an amusing take on TV programme Charlie’s Angels is considered fair game. And therein lies a problem. The play covers too much ground, sometimes superficially.
But there are nuggets that deserve more attention, such as Brian Lenihan Jnr negotiating our greatest challenge since the Treaty.
“We did not protest,” says one of the ensemble cast about the bank guarantee.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved