McGinley at top of his game in King of the Castle

Seána Kerslake and Seán McGinley in King of the Castle.
Seána Kerslake and Seán McGinley in King of the Castle.

Review by Judy Murphy

Life in Druid’s King of the Castle, which opened at the Town Hall Theatre on Tuesday, is a harsh one, especially for women.

Eugene McCabe’s play, set in rural Leitrim in the early 1960s, presents a world where misogyny is routine, hunger for land is pervasive and begrudgery lies close to the surface of all neighbourly communication.

It’s brilliant in places and clunky in others but searingly honest in its depiction of an unforgiving world where the main mark of success is having a son to inherit the land, even if that land is miserable, mountainy scrub.

Scober MacAdam is the King of the Castle, a man who has risen from poverty to own and farm the best land on the mountain. He has also bought the local ‘big house’ and has acquired a young wife, ‘Mullarkey’s daughter’ Tressa. They love each other after a fashion, but after three years of marriage, are childless and have become the butt of neighbours’ jibes. His desire to produce an heir leads the normally shrewd Scober to make a rash decision that has profound implications for their relationship and that won’t quell the mockery of  neighbours he mostly despises.

Seán McGinley, back in Druid after a 10-year absence, gives Scober a depth and complexity that renders him sympathetic, despite his hunger for land and scorn for those who aren’t as industrious and intelligent as he is.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.