Well formulaic is the word. All the stereotypes of the Emerald Isles history are on display here. The cast did a good job in playing it all to the hilt but there is only so much you can wring out of lovable rogues and charming brogues, some of the latter being hard to interpret, even for a European. It is not unenjoyable but could probably be usefully abbreviated so the obvious conclusions could be reached with greater dispatch.
I saw audience members falling asleep within ten minutes of the play start and a lot of them walking out during intermission--The Irish Rep can certainly do a lot better than this 1874 bore. I keep thinking about throughout the play: why am I wasting my time? Dont blame the actors or the directior. In fact, they did an excellent job, but the play itself is not funny and should not have been revived. Skip this one--and youll be glad you did.
Dion Boucicault was a master of melodrama and The Shaughraun, like many of his other works, is a swashbuckling romantic tale of honor, bravery, love and betrayal. To be sure the plot is formulaic and the characters stereotypical. But notwithstanding those shortcomings, the play still provides an afternoon or evening?s entertainment for the entire family, due both to the fact that swashbuckling, romantic comedy-dramas of this sort are just plain fun and to the exceptional talents of several of the cast members in this production. Patrick Fitzgerald, in particular, who played the title role which had been played to great effect by the playwright himself in the original production more than a century ago, was absolutely terrific. So, too, was Allison Jean White who, in the role of Claire Ffolliott, succeeded in expressing a whole range of emotions not only in words but through the sinuous, balletic movements of her body. I have posted an expanded review of this play and reviews of several other plays on my blog www.aseatontheaisle.blogspot.com.