Review – Too Long the Heart

Feb 24 2013 | By More

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Clare Ross as Caitlin with Des O'Gorman as Marty in David Hutchison's Too Long The Heart at Malmaison, Leith

Clare Ross as Caitlin with Des O’Gorman as Marty in David Hutchison’s Too Long The Heart. Photo © Nicola Garman Photography

21 – 26 Feb, 2013
Review by Thom Dibdin

Ireland’s troubled past crackles through David Hutchison’s new play for Siege Perilous, at the Leith Malmaison until Tuesday, even though it is to the future that it points.

A pair of youthful terrorists – lovers it is quickly and graphically revealed in a condom-popping moment – kidnap a tourist near Cork in the Republic of Ireland. But when they get him back to their hideout, they are soon questioning whether their poetry quoting, history spouting victim is the right man.

The poetry is Yeats, leading to discover the reference in the play’s title is to his Easter 1916. “Too long a sacrifice /can make a stone of the heart” he wrote, in a poem which speaks of the changes wrought by the events of the Easter Uprising that took place in Dublin that year.

The subsequent execution of the Uprising’s ringleaders made martyrs of them: mythologising the path of Republicanism and leading to a hardening of support by many, such as Yeats, towards its cause.

So here, in a contemporary setting, the youngsters are part of a long line of those struggling for independence. Clare Ross’s twitchy, intense Caitlin, is the inspiration, Des O’Gorman’s Brady her somewhat bumbling follower, happy to give their captive tea and biscuits.

Andy Corelli makes a good job of giving the captive Lawso a neutrality as he tries to engage with his captors. He and Brady, a history student, debate into the finer points of historical revisionism while Caitlin twitches around the room, unnerved as much by getting too close to Lawson, as her concern that he is not who she thought.

If the history needs to be more than just context, the whole gets too close to being a history lesson for comfort. Even the constantly engaging Ross is not able to increase the lethargic dynamic created by the two overly neutral male roles.

Articulate discussion
Andy Corelli as Lawson (left) with Ian Sexon as Brady in Siege Perilous' production of David Hutchison's Too Long The Heart

Andy Corelli as Lawson (left) with Ian Sexon as Brady in Siege Perilous’ production of David Hutchison’s Too Long The Heart. Photo © Nicola Garman Photography

It takes the impact of terrorist organiser Brady to come bursting into the room for things to start taking off. Ian Sexon gives him an energy which has been lacking, bringing a tension that once again makes you question what might be going to happen.

Hutchison has created an able script in this, the second production to emerge from Siege Perilous’ mentoring scheme with writer-in-residence Caroline Dunford. It’s just that everything feels a bit too deliberate and controlled.

These are big issues which deserve articulate discussion such as this. But in Hutchison’s scheme, events exist to serve the historical discussion rather than to drive the plot. The consequence is that the inherent tensions in the situation becomes dissipated, attention lost.

The production suffered a blow when director Corelli had to take over the role of Lawson in the last week of rehearsals – handing over the director’s role to Amy Gilmerton. That said, this fringe-scale production continues to demonstrate Siege Perilous’ ability to punch above its weight, with a thought-provoking evening out.

Running time – 1 hour 20 mins.
Thurs 21 – Tue 26 February, 7.30 (except Sunday), 5pm (Sunday only).
Malmaison, 1 Tower Place, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 7BZ
Siege Perilous website:


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