A stunning revival of Sean O’Casey’s anti war play The Silver Tassie is now on at the National Theatre.
It tells the story of one young man, Harry Heegan, a football hero in his hometown of Dublin, who has just celebrated the team’s latest victory. All too soon though, Harry and his fellow team members are sent off to war.
Throughout the course of the play we see Harry’s transformation from a young man full of youth and vigour, with a girlfriend and his whole life to look forward to maimed in both mind and body by the war.
Eventually he returns to Dublin, not as a hero but as a man pitied by his friends and family and to add insult to injury his girlfriend has gone off with his best friend.
The entire cast is fantastic but special mention must go to the staging which is amazing. This is particularly so in the second act when the set transforms itself from Dublin tenement building to war zone complete with some of the most amazing visual and sound effects.
This act is performed mostly in song and it is not only incredibly poignant but mesmerising in its intensity.
Ronan Raftery is superb as Harry, brilliantly portraying his transition from hero to a fragile and damaged young man whose life has been totally destroyed. Through Harry we see how the war has changed everyone and everything in different but equally terrible ways.
However, despite the underlying sadness and horror of what war does, the play is actually full of humour. This is beautifully illustrated in Aidan McArdle as Harry’s father and Stephen Kennedy as Simon Norton, the hilarious old codgers who bicker and chat while their sons fight in a war far away.
And Judith Roddy is excellent as the bible-bashing Susie Monican who transforms into a bit of a flirt when she takes on the mantle of nurse in the hospital to treat the war wounded.
The Silver Tassie is at the National Theatre until July 3. Tickets from £15. Call the box office on 020 7452 3000.