The MAC will transport audiences to pre-treaty Ireland as the forging of a nation is retold from the perspective of Michael Collins, as his romance blossoms with the woman who became his fiancé, Kitty Kiernan.
In a post-Brexit Northern Ireland, where the question of borders is ever-more prevalent, this is certainly a play for today. The action takes place in a country in turmoil, as Collins and the Irish delegation negotiate what would become the Anglo Ireland Treaty of 1921, a treaty that would shape the future of 20th century Ireland.
Patrick Talbot’s play, A Great Arrangement, which he also directs, opened this week in Dublin, and comes to the MAC in Belfast for just three nights. The show has been celebrated for its historical accuracy, while drawing on the illuminating love letters between Collins and Kiernan, alongside Collins’ inspirational speeches, and newspaper reports from the time. It is packed full of drama and judging by the audience response so far, Belfast audiences will not be disappointed.
Actor Dominic McHale rises to the challenge of reprising the formidable Michael Collins, bringing to the stage an impassioned performance with intensity, vigour and power. While Irene Kelleher portrays the love of his life, Kitty, in a show full of drama, rich history and emotion.
Writer and Director Patrick Talbot says: “I was interested in presenting a fresh perspective on Collins. Traditionally he is presented as the soldier and the man of action but in this play I focus on Collins the political leader and budding statesman, but also the young man falling very much in love and imagining what it might be like to have a somewhat normal settled existence, something that eluded him for all of his short adult life.’
In preparation for bringing these characters to life on the stage, the cast visited Béal na Bláth, the site of the ambush where Michael Collins was killed by anti-Treaty forces.
“That was an incredibly powerful and poignant visit. It really helped us both to establish a connection with the lives of both Michael (Collins) and Kitty (Kiernan),” explained DominicMcHale who plays the lead role.
“What I find particularly moving about the Kiernan-Collins relationship is that amid incredible pressure, essentially carrying the weight of a nation, both found the time to write these endearing and revealing letters to one another providing comfort and support to the other.
“While obviously it was a very testing time, there are moments of humour and light too, like Kitty reminding Collins to go to Mass. They could perhaps be described as Ireland’s first power couple,” added Kelleher.
A Great Arrangement is playing the MAC in Belfast from 22-24 September, the only dates in Northern Ireland. For more information or to book your tickets, visit themaclive.com or call the MAC on (028) 9023 5053.