Jane's Hero

Peader De Burca's new play, 'Jane's Hero', presented by MorWax Productions.

Peader De Burca's new play, 'Jane's Hero', presented by MorWax Productions.

Peadar de Burca is well known in his native Galway as an actor, director and writer of plays such as What Men Want and Why Men Marry. His latest offering with MorWax productions is Jane’s Hero, a one man show about an Irish army officer and his time with the UN peace keeping forces. De Burca’s script is based on a series of interviews carried out with Lt. Eamon Colclough who has seen service in many of the world’s troubled spots over the last three decades.

Colclough began his career in the 1970’s at the height of IRA activity. It is upon this tapestry that the central premise and wisdom of de Burca’s play pivots: “It’s very important how you shoot a gun and it’s even more important how you don’t shoot a gun.” On a post in Connemara, an army officer almost shoots at a car full of tourists, mistaking a Northern Irish registration number for a stolen car. The play follows the Inchicore officer’s experiences in the Balkans and Africa, through shrapnel, mortar attacks and snipers in Sarajevo to spears and voodooism on the Ivory Coast, as his wife Jane holds the fort at home.

The star of the show is the writing. De Burca’s language is excellently paced, realistic and reflective of its subject. It’s a hefty script that weaves the macho rough language of a Colonel with that of his feeling, sentimental side and is also graphically descriptive of the paraphernalia of war and its savagery with a quotient of puerile laddish humour that alleviates the story’s sometimes harrowing revelations. But while the writing depicts horror, it eclipses that horror too. It is also a story about the indomitable human spirit; how it finds hope in the bleakest of situations, and how people have to come to terms with and accept the consequences of their choices. It also takes a peek at the addiction of soldiers to war zones in foreign places. Colclough is positively thrilled to be sent on a posting to Africa even though he is barely returned from Bosnia.

Brian O’Gibne plays Colclough and assumes a myriad of characters from an African warlord to English and American officers as well as Serb and Muslim fighters. It’s a tough one-hander and O’Gibne pulls it off, almost. In full combat gear he fills the simple, minimalist stage - with only the prop of a stool and a flask - and regales the audience with his hair-raising tales, swapping moods, characters and accents with admirable fluency and great gusto. O’Gibne’s task is gigantic and, although he falters slightly with a few word trips, somewhat mangling the flow of de Burca’s well crafted language, his overall performance is electric and he has fantastic engagement with his audience. Under de Burca’s fine direction, O’Gibne gives convincing life to the Africans, the Muslims, the Serbs and the various others he is charged with. His portrayal of Colclough as an Irish man who jokes, laughs, thinks and ultimately feels is entirely convincing.

Breda Shannon is a freelance writer and contributor of book reviews to The Irish Examiner.

  • Review
  • Theatre

Jane's Hero by Peadar de Burca

Produced by MorWax Productions
In Town Hall Theatre (Studio)

Written, produced and directed by Peadar de Burca

Costume, stage and lighting design by Peadar de Burca

With: Brian O’Gibne