See it if you're a fan of Synge & are curious about his non-fiction & its impact on his plays, enjoy 1-person shows in which the actor plays all roles
Don't see it if you can't concentrate during 1-person shows or deal with a variety of Irish accents, troubled by what the Irish had to endure every day Read more
See it if Adaptation of Synge's journals of bleak island community as parts sociological study, travelogue & Irish mythmaking Interesting but slow
Don't see it if Actor Conroy doesn't offer enough variation between stories; they seem to blur into one contiuous monologue One standout - an Irish burial
See it if you're in need of sleep. This one will certainly lull you to sleep. The dark lighting is an asset to that end. There's no arc in this piece.
Don't see it if you can read the book instead. Or if you have any other plays to see.
See it if Plays that look toward the attitudes and customs of the past appeal to you. You have a romanticized view of Irish culture.
Don't see it if You are modern and prefer plays that speak to the issues of our time. The spareness of one-man shows disappoints you. Read more
See it if I have visited the Aran Islands, loved my time there. Hoped to feel some of that atmosphere. It was the wrong play for me to see tonight.
Don't see it if You have difficulty with heavy Irish accents, dark stories, very wordy plays. Stage was dark, stories dark.
See it if you are interested in the Irish experience. It is a masterful glimpse of a different culture portrayed with humor and great affection
Don't see it if you need action and a plot. This is a journey into memory not a play in the strict sense of the word.
See it if you appreciate a good story being told by a master, juggling Irish accents and voices.
Don't see it if you do not enjoy one-man shows or if you have a hard time understanding Irish accents.
See it if you love J.M Synge and can't read the works yourself. Great presentation of the work but a little boring.
Don't see it if you don't like one-person shows or Irish literature.
"A faithful, if soporific adaptation...O'Byrne's adaptation and production (he also directs) eschews that dramatic potential for something a lot closer to a staged reading...Unfortunately, there is so little variation between the different characters that we feel like we're watching one long story time with granddad...Certainly many audience members will find the proceedings more thrilling, but it is hard to argue that a show with so little dynamic variance needs to be as long as it is."
"A travelogue with a fancy literary pedigree...Elegantly written, it's a tall order for adaptation to the stage...For all their effort, however, the result is pretty static...‘The Aran Islands’ is filled with tales but they don't compensate for the lack of an overall dramatic thrust. It might help if Conroy took a more dynamic approach to the text, but in general his intonation is slow and heavy, determined to treat each word as priceless. The result is lulling rather the captivating."
"Conroy, a chameleon-like actor, is a mostly riveting presence...A criticism of O'Byrne's adaptation of 'The Aran Islands,' a unique hybrid of memoir and documentary, to a stage monologue would be that it gives the same weight to Synge and the storytellers as it does to their folktales...It's easy to see why directors and actors would be eager to unearth more of Synge's writing but O'Byrne's adaptation only really takes flight when Conroy is giving voice to its humorous and haunting tales."
“The demands placed on its star Brendan Conroy are of Wagnerian scale…While Brendan Conroy does an admirable job playing the many characters and Joe O’Byrne’s crisp direction keeps the proceedings moving, after about an hour a sense of sameness sets in. I would like to see Synge’s splendid study, which takes Aran Islanders from homemade cradle to coffin, performed by a large cast in which each storyteller tells his/her own tale.”
"This adaptation stars the master storyteller Brendan Conroy and provides one-hundred minutes of scintillating – often brilliantly bizarre – tales Synge shared...With irrepressible energy and indomitable enthusiasm, Conroy takes the audience on Synge’s island adventures delivering each story, canvassing every rock and every resident with exacting care...Gives palpable truth to every word of wisdom and wit teeming from the 'lonely rocks' Synge visited."
“Conroy’s delivery is as consistently stormy as the inclement weather on which he frequently reports. He’s like a theatrical camp counselor presiding over a campfire. There’s good reason for that. O’Byrne is telling the story of a man who told stories that call on yet another storyteller...His underlying message is that stories are forever. The strength of 'The Aran Islands' is that there’s no denying the point.”
“Brendan Conroy has the ability to hold an audience spellbound…Through it all, Conroy modulates his voice to express reactions, and he also strides or strolls about the stage under O’Byrne’s direction to provide much-needed movement to keep the performance from becoming static. It is mainly the actor’s gift for mellifluously immersing himself in Synge’s portrait of the islands and their people that commands attention and does justice to the play.”
"Synge’s travelogue-like text hasn’t been adapted into a full-blown drama so much as whittled back into a hundred-minute piece of narrative...Fisherman’s nets and tackle comprise the duskily illuminated setting for Conroy’s performance, which, ultimately, is not entirely compelling. His eyes occasionally blaze with conviction as he flings his arms out to emphasize these tales, yet the actor’s vocal range is not especially varied, and the monologue turns a mite tedious before he concludes it."