Theatre review: Matched

Everyman, Cork

Theatre review: Matched

Money, marriage and the battle of the sexes are the main themes in Matched, an adaptation by Ger Fitzgibbon of Chekov’s comedies, The Proposal and Bear. The Russian playwright isn’t known for frivolity and claimed to care not a whit for these ‘farce-vaudevilles’. But Fitzgibbon, who also directs the play, and his excellent cast, have created an extremely entertaining piece.

Set in the late 19th century in a Big House in Ireland, the play opens with a bumbling Nicholas Looney-Bagenal (Nicholas Kavanagh) trying to work up the courage to propose to Natalie Chivers (Aideen Wylde). But before Nicholas pops the question, misunderstandings somehow lead to an argument between Natalie and her suitor about the ownership of a piece of land.

In the second act, Natalie is in her widow’s weeds, having lost Nicholas in “a tragic accident”. She revels in her role as grieving widow. Onto the scene comes posh Henry Simmons (Kavanagh) who is collecting debts, run up by the late Nicholas. Everything gets out of hand. A duel between Natalie and Henry is proposed. Henry has no problem fighting against a woman. Women, beneath their feminine wiles, have hearts of stone, he says.

The language in this play is rich and earthy. Luke (Jack Healy), who is Natalie’s meek but hilarious butler, speaks to his superior as if on equal terms with her. Tired of Natalie’s crusade to be the most long suffering widow of all time, he tells her that there’s a whole barracks full of officers nearby. “They wouldn’t be long taking the starch out of your linen for you,” he declares.

But sometimes, the language is out of kilter with the period. Stephen uses the phrase, “what’s the story with...” which seems too contemporary. However, this romantic comedy of errors is timeless in its excavation of attraction and desire.

Until next Saturday

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