IRISH WORLD THEATRE REVIEW

MIXED MARRIAGE

By St John Ervine

At the Finborough Theatre

St John Ervine (1883-1971) was a protestant from East Belfast and so an unlikely choice as Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre Dublin under W.B.Yeats.

This was the first of his many plays to be produced there and the Finborough Theatre - true to its tradition – must be praised for bringing forward another neglected play by a well known playwright.

Mixed Marriage as its title suggests is about how a Protestant family deal with the prospect of having their son marry a Catholic. It was pretty sensational in its time – also having a showing in London at the Royal Court – and sadly doesn’t yet seem such an anachronism.

It is a valuable contribution to modern political theatre. As well as its searing personal issues, it takes as a sub-theme how important it was at the time for Catholic and Protestant workers to join together to better their conditions of work rather than allow themselves to be divided by the bosses along sectarian lines; divide and rule.

There are also many quips and amusing remarks about the nature of women and men, “Mars and Venus” type generalisations which brought many a giggle or snort, so in spite of its serious social and political themes, there is comedy.

But my lasting impression is of the brooding Protestant father of this working class East Belfast house, sitting in his armchair with the cup of tea, sash on ready for the next lodge meeting, saying “NO!”

Finborough Theatre, Finborough Rd London SW10

Tuesday to Saturday / Evenings 7.30pm Saturday matinees 3pm

£15 + various concessions Book on Line www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Shaun Traynor