Play - The Star Turns Red

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Produced: 1948

Author: Sean O'Casey

"To the men and women who fought through the Great Dublin Lockout in 1913"

The Star Turns Red, AusStage - cast and crew

Sydney Morning Herald Monday 8th March 1948, page 2:

New Theatre League in O'Casey Play

The New Theatre League's production of The Star Turns Red, by Sean O'Casey, is so good that it deserves discriminating and critical patronage by all serious students of drama and life.

Although passionate and anguished, the play is magnificent theatre, with guffaws of inspired laughter to relieve its tears.

The producer, Jerome Levy, has achieved a lively pace of acting, although some of the players fight a losing battle with the Irish brogue and miss its lilt and music.

The grouping and speaking of verse (so important in this poetic and experimental play) are well done.

The Star of Bethlehem, which watches over a conflict between Fascists and Communists, turns red in the last act when the red priest (Fascist) is brought to defeat by Red Jim, the leader of the workers.

The strength of the play, however, lies in its portrayal of the humour, compassion and poetry found amid Dublin's poor. One of the best moments is the curtain for the second act, when the Lord Mayor and his cries are made to sing "God rest ye merry gentlemen" by the tipsy Brannigan (dashingly played by Jerome Levy).

Patricia Hill plays the girl Julia with a fine verve and seond of the world's sorrow, and Les McGill and Dora Norris are entertaining as the old couple whose two sons belong to opposite ideological camps.

Lon Mahoney does not make Jack more than a puppet, whereas Charles Stanley and Mark Roberts bring to their stereotyped parts a personal fire.

This is not a great play like Shaw's "St Joan", but there is enough fruity observation of human nature, astonishing inventiveness and Irish eloquence to give delight and sharpened understanding. - A.T.