By Laura Lynott
FOR those seeking some light relief from the current political chaos, a madcap grand coalition and a side serving of murder, is currently being served up on the Abbey Theatre’s stage.
The Fall of the Second Republic couldn’t have been staged at a more appropriate time, as the current political system is in a state of deadlock. The satirical look at Irish political life in 1970s Dublin, is an absolute treat for those who are currently asking could things get any worse?
Certainly in playwright Michael West’s world, they indeed could be much worse. The taoiseach, Manny Spillane (Andrew Bennet) is so intent on clinging onto power, he’ll entertain a “coalition with the w**kers,” his party’s political enemies since the civil war.
And Spillane will even sacrifice his morality, his party, civil liberty and the life of journalist, to ensure his vision of a new banking centre. The only credible thorn in his side are the “w**kers” and a determined newspaper hack, Emer Hackett (Caitríona Ennis), who believes nothing is more valuable than the truth.
Art does mimic life to some extent in this political comedy due to the fact that in 1973, the year in which the play is set – there was a general and presidential election. And as the audience launches into laughter at the chaos of a grand coalition, this is of course a very real scenario being played out in the Dail today.
A silver haired Spillane holds echoes of Charlie Haughey but the character becomes farcical as he marches Ireland towards State control, broadcasting his own TV propaganda to the public and capturing a journalist.
West and director Annie Ryan, have no doubt looked back at Ireland and reimagined it had a power obsessed leader taken control of democracy.
While we as a world watch populism on the rise, as traditional politics loses control and fake news becomes an increasing concern, the notion that Ireland could have its Watergate moment, with journalism asking the questions others do not, is also an interesting notion.
This is an amusing and very worthwhile play, which also shines a light on the ongoing issue of chauvinism in the #MeToo generation, with Hackett striving to find her way in the ironically titled newspaper, the Freeman’s Journal.
The Fall of the Second Republic is at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin until March 14.
For tickets log onto https://www.abbeytheatre.ie/