First off, The Walworth Farce is a great piece of theater. What I experienced was specific, surprising, complex, and affecting. For at least two hours after I left the theater I was on edge, slightly jumpy and uncomfortable, even with objects I found near me. I’ve been trying to understand what it is in the show that did this to me. During the performance I laughed and watched. It was a typical theater experience. The difference I think was in the physicality of the actors. I was particularly taken with Tadhg Murphy’s Sean. But they all moved extremely well, rapidly shifting positions/characters/physicalities. Following the transitions took a lot of attention: mental and physical. (Neuroscientists have demonstrated that when watching a person do a movement “mirror neurons” fire in the brain of the observer as if he/she were actually moving.) When the play ended I felt like my body had been through the wringer. I was stimulated from the effort of watching and exhausted.
Secondly, The Walworth Farce is an Irish piece of theater. I’ve seen movies and read books about the plight of the Irish under the oppressive thumb of the English. The Walworth Farce advanced this story of colonization. The way Dennis’ sons struggle underneath him and become him is about learning their Irish heritage, but they learn it in a Council Flat in England. The sons are trapped in a tiny apartment in a country that is not their own without any real knowledge of Ireland. It’s a transcultural story.
The Irish have been going to England to make their fortune for over a hundred years. It’s an old story and it’s still happening today. More than ever people are traveling to rich world cities, leaving their youth, home and family to make money in a foreign culture. This isn’t always pretty. It reveals and reinforces unsavory power dynamics – in families and in society. For the past day, I’ve been wondering about metaphors in The Walworth Farce. I keep coming back to the metaphor of the transcultural experience. It’s is surprising. We certainly have these problems in America. Look at the recent news surrounding the Somali population here in Minnesota.
I felt and enjoyed the skill of The Walworth Farce’s actors, director, and designers. For me, what makes the play great is that I also felt the consequence in the play Edna Walsh wrote.