by William Philips, The Abbey
An evening of surprises: that is the news from the Abbey appertaining to St. Stephen’s Green by William Philips.
It was hardly to be expected that a play left to gather Dublin dust for 288 years since its premiere would generate such diversion and enjoyment.
Thanks to incisive direction (and adaptation) by Leon Rubin, resplendent period costumes, majestic sets (including St. Stephen’s Green in full moonlight) and a fine cast, the Abbey at last showed that the Gate is not the sole custodian in Dublin of Restoration Comedy.
Astonishing! The Abbey Theatre, which stumbled so badly in its last Restoration Comedy, The Beaux Stratagem, two years ago, have arisen magnificently in St. Stephen’s Green by William Philips, which opened last night.
This is the best show on the big stage at the Abbey for years.
In an elegantly costumed, colourfully designed and lavishly dressed production the Abbey added their contribution to the Millennium celebrations with a presentation of St. Stephen’s Green …
Set in Dublin in 1700, where it was first staged at the Theatre Royal, Smock Alley, this adaptation of the original by Leon Rubin shows it to be a lively entertainment that bears all the hallmarks of the works of Congreve and Farguhar.
Thi production, which is also directed by Rubin, is full of bouts of bravura playing and flights of mock heroics.
It is presented as a comedy of manners and marriage in which the true love of the two betrothed couples burst brightly into focus against the scheming of the elders […]
It looks as if the tide could be turning favourably for the first time for Vincent Dowling since he took over at the Abbey as artistic director.
Director Leon Rubin and his cast have met a considerable challenge well. A slight, but not very clever play has been pummelled into shape to remind us, pleasantly and politely, that if Stephen’s Green in the year 1700 was peopled by wheelers and dealers and jobless young men on the make nothing much has changed in 288 years.