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Muddy Hands all over Big Maggie by John B Keane

This was an excellent first production by Muddy Hands, a group of disparate drama lovers whose aim is to encourage creativity through artistic expression, and put on great shows throughout the surrounding rural communities. People in the group hail from Westmeath, Meath and Cavan.

They played in Ballinacree, Meath, where I saw this outstanding show by Muddy Hands. So many fine performances that made the characters on stage believable but one performance stood out for me. Trevor Brannigan, who played the sleazy salesman, in his first stage role. The show went on to perform at Coole and Mullingar.

The play was written by John B Keane and is a popular drama in Ireland, and is studied by Leaving Cert Ordinary Level English students. It has been cited as the least subtle of his plays, and, although I don’t know his other plays, I can see how that might be true.

Briefly, the play starts at the funeral of Big Maggie’s husband, and we follow Big Maggie as she takes control of her life. Comments on the play range from ‘Big Maggie is a compelling vision of the Irish mother as sociopath’ and the contrasting description ‘the indomitable Maggie deals with her feckless family and unwanted suitors,’ and ‘her attempts to harden up her children for life’s injustices, Maggie crushes their hopes.’

Big Maggie is a spirited woman; a woman of her time who was gagged in a religious, patriarchal society and expected to be grateful for a philandering, drunken husband. Now he is dead she can control her own life. In doing so, she alienates her children, and forces one into marriage thus repeating the cruelty of the past.

My biggest problem with Big Maggie was her monologue ending. I thought it was unnecessary. As a viewer, I had no need to be hammered on the head with words when I had already understood the points raised.

Still a most enjoyable evening.



Published inCultural Life

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