New York | 1h 45m | Ends May 25

The Shadow of a Gunman

From 20 critic and 64 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Great staging, Thought-provoking

About the show

Irish Rep presents a new staging of Irish master Sean O’Casey’s 1923 drama about a young poet who gets pulled into the chaos of Irish War of Independence after a rumor spreads that he is an IRA assassin. More…

It’s 1921, and the Irish War of Independence rages on the streets of Dublin as Irish revolutionaries clash with British auxiliary forces. Aspiring poet Donal Davoren tries to avoid the conflict, but when Donal learns of a rumor that he is a gunman on the run, he cannot resist the curiosity it stirs in beautiful young Minnie Powers…and he cannot escape the attention of his other neighbors. As the rumor grows, the war outside moves closer to home with tragic consequences.

"The Shadow of a Gunman" is being presented in repertory along with the other two plays of Sean O’Casey’s "Dublin Trilogy" ("Juno and the Paycock" and "The Plough and the Stars") as Irish Rep’s "O’Casey Cycle."



95
Theater Life

"Ciarán O'Reilly has done an extraordinarily fine job of bringing this material to stinging, tragicomic life, making moot conventional criticism of the play's reputedly uneven blend of comedy and tragedy. Each member of the mostly Irish and Irish-American ensemble gives O'Casey's unusually vivid dialogue, spoken in thick North Irish brogues, the kind of dynamic force it requires while embodying their characters' physical attributes with a perfect tone of heightened naturalism." Full Review

95
New York Irish Arts

“One of the best things you’ll see in 2019...O’Casey’s play starts out funny. You enjoy the poetry of the language and the precision of the performances...who are playing familiar Irish characters...Then the play takes a hard turn and you’re in the world of tragedy...The 10-person cast are perfect...O’Reilly hits each note so that the language is ever rhythmical and sharp...’The Shadow of a Gunman’ has heart, pathos, humor, and wit. It also has grief, one that will be sure to stay with you aw... Full Review

94
Front Row Center

“’The Shadow of a Gunman’ is a period piece wonderfully revived, not reimagined, that has relevance today as both theater and as human drama. The play takes place in 1920 during the Irish War of Independence...The Irish Repertory Theatre is mounting all three of O’Casey’s Dublin plays...They are a true gift the Irish Rep is giving to us all. As a theatre lover, I urge you to partake of their excellent work and offerings.” Full Review

90
Wolf Entertainment Guide

"The drama’s power is fully realized in this staging directed by Ciarán O’Reilly with an effective buildup to the shattering climax. The company, with its customary dependability, has assembled a superb cast that milks every bit of the drama...It is remarkable how successful the author is in setting the stage and following through with a tense buildup in a complex play that is only 105 minutes long." Full Review

90
Theatermania

“Thrilling new production...Superbly performed...As excellent a production of the play as you're ever likely to see...Characters come off as Shakespearean clichés, but the actors...get us through...That quibble aside, ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ showcases O'Casey's unquestionable talent for blending the comic with the tragic. O'Reilly makes the transition from one to the other as natural as day to dusk...The realism of the production is one of its strongest suits.” Full Review

90
Interludes

"Director Ciaran O’Reilly has outdone himself by transforming the intimate Greenburger Mainstage into a run-down Dublin tenement...Despite its reputation as nascent — even second tier — O’Casey, the play is efficiently structured, building powerfully to a tension and paranoia-soaked climax. As for the production, it’s top notch and reeks of quality. I’ve already mentioned Mr. O’Reilly’s enveloping, beautifully-detailed staging, but ultimately the success of any play lies in its acting." Full Review

85
The New York Times

“O’Reilly’s production doesn’t hit any of the themes too hard. If he does locate the brutality in much of the comedy, he treats a grim play lightly. If you’re worried that you may not find gun violence especially funny, just lean back and luxuriate in the language...When the play takes its uncorrectable skid into tragedy, there’s enough dramatic force to make you feel for the characters, even the ones you laughed at. At nearly 100 years old, O’Casey’s play still packs heat.” Full Review

85
CurtainUp

“Given that ‘Shadow’ did suffer from the structural weaknesses of a fledgling work, the invaluable Irish Rep's co-founders have now tapped into its strengths...Directed...with solid attention to its blend of humor and horrified distress...O'Reilly has assembled a splendid team of actors...Russell and Hennessy do well as the romantic couple...But it's the actors in the minor roles who really give them color and make them less the overly familiar types they've become over the years.” Full Review

85
The Wall Street Journal

"Mr. O’Reilly has once again turned the company’s 148-seat mainstage auditorium into an immersive space that places you squarely in the middle of the shabby world of O’Casey’s characters. The cast is miraculously right, though none of the 10 actors appear to be 'performing'...O’Casey never lets us forget the bloody toll exacted by those prepared to pursue it at all costs. That is the 'message' of 'The Shadow of a Gunman,' and it couldn’t be more relevant here and now." Full Review

85
New York Stage Review

“This bracing and ultimately haunting production reminds us—under the witty, vigorous direction of O’Reilly—the playwright had a keen eye for human frailties and foibles...O’Reilly has filled his cast with fine players who drive home ‘Gunman‘s’ harrowing elements while fulfilling its rich comic potential...Given the troubled, polarized state of our own nation...’The Shadow of a Gunman’ provides a powerful reminder of all we still have to be grateful for." Full Review

85
On and Off Broadway

"The cast is absolutely perfect meshing beautifully under the tight direction of Ciaran O’Reilly...Some unexpected twists and turns in the plot race around the tense forty-five minutes it takes to reach a conclusion. It leaves no doubt that Sean O’Casey had found his voice with this play and that the Irish Rep Company has generously brought it to our attention once again...Thought provoking and somewhat disturbing—in other words, good theatre well done." Full Review

85
Off Off Online

"'Gunman' was the first of O’Casey’s plays ever produced. It is more episodic than the others, and sometimes a bit derivative—it needs a sterling production like Ciarán O’Reilly’s current one to underline its virtues...O’Reilly’s production benefits not just from excellent performers, but from the work of set designer Charlie Corcoran...'The Shadow of a Gunman' is a fine first course for the heftier meals to come." Full Review

85
BroadwaySelect

"O’Casey is being very well-served by O’Reilly, who’s staged a potent production of 'Gunman'...O’Casey’s theme that paranoia can run rampant – but sometimes in the wrong direction – comes through boldly...O’Reilly’s production keeps that suspense building with it-could-happen-at-any-second tension." Full Review

85
TheaterScene.net

"Director Ciarán O'Reilly handles O'Casey's abrupt tonal shifts well, transitioning from laughter to tears to horror with barely a hint of contrivance. A top-notch production team greatly aids O'Reilly's quest for authenticity, turning the performance space into an impressive simulacrum of war-torn Dublin. Leading the effort is Charlie Corcoran, whose incredibly detailed set spreads out into the audience." Full Review

80
The Clyde Fitch Report

“The play deliberately starts out with comedy...and then, in the last minutes of Act 2, abruptly swerves into deeply despairing tragedy...Diligent, intelligent, and viscerally connected to the material as O’Reilly is, there seemed to be a slight disconnect during the comic sequences...It could be that the tricky comedy-tragedy challenge presented by O’Casey’s work is the reason why it isn’t revived frequently enough...All the more reason to see the play now.” Full Review

80
Time Out New York

“The first half of ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ is a tenement comedy that is almost sleepy...The characters are poor, yet rich in the time to talk...As a play, ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ is a bit schematic. That’s why it’s the least frequently produced of O'Casey's Dublin Cycle; you can see the plot's melodramatic turnings a mile down the road...Luckily, director Ciarán O'Reilly presides over an embarrassment of riches from lead to bit player...Irish Rep treats this relatively minor work like royal... Full Review

80
New York Stage Review

“For the most part, this fine, enduring play receives a winning and vital production by O’Reilly...The pacing seems to lag in a few places...Which suggests that not all of the actors are entirely secure in their characterizations...O’Reilly’s staging of the drama’s climax and conclusion, which are complex in action and emotion, is handled and performed extremely well...The general excellence of ‘Gunman’ makes one look forward to seeing the next two shows in its O’Casey Cycle.” Full Review

65
Lighting & Sound America

"They're not an especially appealing lot, at least in Ciarán O'Reilly's overhearty production; they keep banging through the doorway, bursting with energy and oratory, seemingly ready to take part in a farce that the playwright hasn't written...If the first act comes off as a rather too-zesty serving of local color, the second act is an immersion in a terror that seems all too familiar today. O'Reilly's staging acquires a muscularity it lacked." Full Review

45
Talkin' Broadway

"''The Shadow of a Gunman,' is an uneven misfire...Directed with a lack of cohesive tone by O'Reilly, the biggest problem with this revival is the actors aren't working in the same style...Both James Russell and Meg Hennessy are on the right wavelength with regards to O'Casey's taught style...Their tenement neighbors, on the other hand, are too over-the-top and overwrought in their characterizations. The contrast is jarring and the play's overall impact is severely lessened." Full Review

40
scribicide

"One gets the feeling the production is motivated by nothing but deference to O'Casey as an enshrined and canonized playwright, and nothing sinks a classical revival like obedience to - rather than conversation with - the text." Full Review


100
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Funny, Exquisite

See it if You love glorious words that spin a web of beauty to a story that is at once hilarious and then heartbreaking as only a great playwright can

Don't see it if You don’t want to be engaged and blown away by truly raw and wonderful theatre

93
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great writing

See it if If you love historical plays that are presented in a not too serious manner

Don't see it if If you don’t like plays about history and or revolutions

90
Ambitious, Funny, Great acting, Great staging, Masterful

See it if You are interested in Irish theatre, any theatre in fact. Rarely staged play. O’Casey’s first & relevant today with its nationalist theme

Don't see it if Accents and/or melodrama aren’t your thing

88
Absorbing, Great staging, Resonant, Intense, Masterful

See it if an extremely well done production - excellent acting, sets, sound - v v funny in parts but deadly serious. Extraordinary theatricality.

Don't see it if you want to avoid an intense, painfully relevant century-old play about irish history. Although there's plenty of humor, it's a tragedy.

Also if you've never seen an O'Casey. this is the way to experience him.

88
Authentic, moving, totally engaging

See it if you admire authentic, honest, beautifully acted and directed productions of rarely produced classic plays that deserve this fine spotlight

Don't see it if a play capturing the human reality and toll of the inception of the Irish "troubles" will upset you. No happy endings.

Also It is rare to see O'Casey, let alone to see it so beautifully acted, s... Read more Read less

87
Great staging, Absorbing, Great acting, Intense

See it if u want to see a stunningly staged, taut revival of O'Casey's masterful thriller; u appreciate (or want to discover) Irish Rep's mission.

Don't see it if ur not interested in Irish culture or history; u are looking for strictly light fare; your idea of Irish theatre is the St Pat's Day Parade

87
Absorbing, Great staging, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You like O'Casey and want to experience an Irish perspective on the troubles. Irish Rep has consistently good directing, acting and staging

Don't see it if You aren't interested in Irish culture, have no desire to be enveloped in a world of personal ramifications of political decisions/actions.

87
Absorbing, Great acting, Ambitious, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy Irish plays & O'Casey, like linear plots filled with well-developed characters & action, interested in Irish war of independence

Don't see it if you have trouble understanding Irish dialect, bothered by suspense and impending gun fire & explosions, not into Irish & IRA history

87
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Must see, Masterful

See it if You are a fan of great Irish drama and Sean O’Casey. After 100 years the theme of conflict resonates throughout with excellence.

Don't see it if You expect a lighthearted look at Irish life with happy music and rosy outlooks. Get ready for authentic Irish accents. 🍀

Also Irish Rep is presenting a Sean O’Casey Trilogy. This play covers the y... Read more Read less

85
Absorbing, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense

See it if a faithful loving production of a building block of 20th century theater.

Don't see it if perhaps a little too reverent? Still a great chance to imaginefeel was it like to see this on stage in 1924, two years after the events.

84
Riveting, Profound, Great staging, Absorbing, Intense

See it if You enjoy dramas about The Troubles.

Don't see it if You don't like dark plays about the Troubles in Ireland.

83
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you appreciate the IRT and sean o'casey and historically accurate Irish plays

Don't see it if you dislike Irish plays

83
Masterful, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if You are interested in Irish history and would like to see a period drama that attempts to be true to the source material

Don't see it if You get bored easily or will have trouble paying close enough attention to decipher the accents.

Also Interesting play done well. The first act moves a bit slowly, but the ... Read more Read less

81
Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Beautifully produced

See it if you enjoy classic dramas with historical settings. The auditorium has been converted to create an environment for the play. Great direction

Don't see it if you are disturbed by the violent complexities of Irish history. The program has a good summery of Irish history that sets up the situation

81
Absorbing, Clever, Exquisite, Great acting, Profound

See it if You want to learn about the Irish revolution. Also it’s a case of mistaken identity and a good history piece

Don't see it if You do not like history pieces

81
Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Intense, Great staging

See it if Early O'Casey is as much irish blarney as fraught political melodrama Rich characterizations; O"Reilly's taut direction keeps drama on track

Don't see it if Talky, expository 1st act nearly does drama in but 2nd act packs a punch Accent heavy & colloquial but Corcoran's immersive set a knockout

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Wonderful set, Intense, Masterful

See it if you're a fan of Irish drama. This is beautifully directed and staged, and I'm looking forward to the next two plays in the O'Casey trilogy.

Don't see it if you dislike plays with heavy accents and impending violence.

Also I loved that one of the main characters was a poet, and we heard snipp... Read more Read less

80
Entertaining, Engrossing, Irish classic, Funny

See it if If you love things Irish, this character study of dreamers and braggarts, lovers and drunkards in troubled times is for you.

Don't see it if You don't like brogues, loud noises and historical events intruding on your drama.

Also I very much enjoyed this revival of O'Casey's classic drama. Lots of I... Read more Read less

80
Somewhat dated, Talky, First act drags a bit, Great set and use of whole theater

See it if You're interested in Irish history and classic theater.

Don't see it if You're looking for a comedy. If Irish accents bother you.

Also The Irish Rep did a great job providing background for this show. Befo... Read more Read less

80
Great staging, Intelligent, Intense

See it if you care for stories of Irish independence from the POV of the people in middle of the war. Great staging. Strong drama with bits of humor.

Don't see it if you can't handle heavy Irish accents. Simulated gunshots and some violence in Act II.

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Confusing, Great staging, Intelligent

See it if Spectacular Scenic Design and Costumes. So pleasing to again see the same show from 20 years ago and with some of the same cast . See Also

Don't see it if Practice some speech with folks with Irish inflections before seeing the show. A/C much too effective for Feb. eves. See Also

Also Acting at its best. Great idea to devote the season to the 3 plays... Read more Read less

79
Entertaining, Well acted

See it if You might enjoy Irish history written as it happened, showing quotidian life as well as some very tense melodramatic elements. Funny too.

Don't see it if You have issues with strong accents, or no interest in times and lives different than those you have experienced.

78
Delightful, Intense, Great writing, Dated, Clever

See it if you like historical Irish plays. And enjoy incredible immersive sets.

Don't see it if you don't quite understand Irish accents or the long history of the Ireland

76
Illuminates o'casey's development, Bang up staging of a raid, Unnecessary shouting, Gentle lead performance, Some shameless, showboaty acting

See it if you're a Sean O'Casey fan, support Irish Rep's mission, and are interested in early works on the Troubles.

Don't see it if you want a more incisive production that hits the target more squarely in the heart and head.

76
Great acting, Relevant, Intense

See it if you are interested in Irish plays and Irish history. You like classics. You enjoy great acting that oscillates between comedy and tragedy

Don't see it if you get overwhelmed with screaming, violence. You need a play that is either comical OR dramatic. you can't deal with Irish accents


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Cast & Creatives (19)