25th Anniversary Season
The Freedom of the City
Set in Derry, Northern Ireland during the aftermath of a civil rights meeting, THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY revolves around an inquiry into the shooting by British soldiers of three marchers as they emerged from the Guildhall. As the inquiry continues, with testimony from 'expert' witnesses, the play relives the real events that led to its institution. When the police disrupt the peaceful protest, three unarmed strangers, Lily, a middle-aged mother of 11, and Michael and Skinner, two young men, take refuge from the streets and find themselves inexplicably in the Mayor's Parlor. As the three settle in to the Lord Mayor's opulent office, word spreads about the "occupation" of the Guildhall. The motley trio is transformed into a band of armed and desperate terrorists, a fiction that is taken up by the church, the media, the army, and nationalist balladeers, all of whom use the myth for their own diverse ends.
Tues at 7pm (Jan. Performances only) | Wed at 3pm & 8pm | Thu at 7pm | Fri at 8pm | Sat at 3pm & 8pm | Sun at 3pm
Approx. Running Time: 2 hours, with intermission
Click below to listen to Leonard Lopate discuss The Freedom of the City
with Cara Seymour, Ciaran O'Reilly and Charlotte Moore.
Click on the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at The Freedom of the City.
WHAT THE CRITICS HAVE TO SAY...
"Sociopolitical themes are invariably woven into the fabric of the great contemporary Irish dramatist Brian Friel’s works, but few are as direct in their focus as “The Freedom of the City,” which is being given A TRENCHANT REVIVAL at the Irish Repertory Theater. Staged by Ciaran O’Reilly with a firm handle on the narrative’s time-shuffling structure and a stinging clarity that illuminates this 1973 play’s multiple perspectives, THE DRAMA STEADILY TIGHTENS ITS GRIP, right up to its shattering conclusion. Given that the outcome is revealed from the start, and that there are somewhat didactic detours along the way, THE PLAY'S EMOTIONAL IMPACT IS ESPECIALLY NOTEWORTHY. Those three lead performances — Ms. Seymour’s the most quietly wrenching — put a haunting human face on the Troubles in Northern Ireland."
— The New York Times
"A MASTERPIECE OF TIGHTLY UNIFIED STAGING AND DESIGN. Charlie Corcoran, the set designer, has festooned the company's tiny 135-seat auditorium with barbed wire and painted its walls with slogans, and Mr. O'Reilly fills the aisles with gun-wielding soldiers who are rarely more than a foot or two from the audience. M. Florian Staab, the sound designer, and Ryan Rumery, who wrote the incidental music, rend the air with the heartless sounds of rising chaos. Only an ensemble of formidably talented actors could hope to rise above the maelstrom and give MEMORABLE PERFORMANCES, and Mr. O'Reilly has found just the right people for the job. This is the kind of production in which every element... contributes equally to the total effect, which is NOTHING SHORT OF OVERWHELMING. Mr. Friel and the Irish Rep will show you that it's possible to make great art out of a great wrong." — Wall Street Journal
"Ciaran O'Reilly directs a talented ensemble cast of nine in the THOUGHTFUL, QUITE STIRRING PRODUCTION... Many of Friel’s observations about poverty and power in this compelling work from four decades ago remain unfortunately truer than ever today." — AP
"OUTSTANDING" - Time Out New York
"THIS IS A POWERFUL PIECE OF THEATER." — Woman Around Town
"Evidence that Friel may be the world’s best dramatist can be found over at the Irish Repertory Theater where a very fine, if little known, play of his dealing with Irish politics and identity is being presented in A SUPERB NEW PRODUCTION. The playwright is aided here by the outstanding cast that director Ciaran O’Reilly has picked." — EDGE NY
"THE ACTING, UNDER THE IMPECCABLE DIRECTION OF CIARÁN O'REILLY, IS UNIFORMLY EXCELLENT. Seymour gives a hearty and heartbreaking performance as Lily... We can feel the certainty that things will not go well in Russell's agitated performance as Michael... The husky Sikora is splendid as the "flippant" Skinner who, despite being a "hooligan," injects into the play a robust theatricality." — CurtainUp
"BRIAN FRIEL'S GRIPPING PLAY IS BEING GIVEN A POWERFUL REVIVAL. The Freedom of the City is his most overtly political play and can still inspire a sense of outrage at the injustice not only at the killing of unarmed marchers but at the official cover-up that follows. Ciaran O'Reilly's deft direction keeps building tension toward the play's foregone conclusion, and A SOLID CAST OF NINE ACTORS PORTRAY SOME 20 ROLES ABLY AND SEAMLESSLY." — Huffington Post
"Sliding effortlessly from thoughtful analysis to edge-of-your-seat suspense, The Freedom of the City NEVER FAILS TO HIGHLIGHT HIGHLIGHT THE RAGE, THE RECKLESSNESS, AND THE REGRET THAT SO FREQUENTLY DEFINES CONTROVERSIES OF THIS NATURE. Friel doesn't pretend to have the answers for any of these dilemmas, but asks the questions with such brutal emotional efficiency that... you're inspired to keep the discussions about them alive." — Talkin' Broadway
"FRIEL'S LANGUAGE, AS ALWAYS, MAKES ITS OWN BEAUTIFUL MUSIC." — L&S
"THE HISTORY IN THE PLAY IS RICH AND ALLURING. Director Ciaran O’Reilly does good work in staging a large play on a small stage. He worked wonders in giving his actors a sense of history. Civil wars and revolutions flood the world today and this one, even though thirty years old, tells the story of all of them." — History News Network
"...AN EXCELLENT REVIVAL... The greatness of this play, skillfully captured by The Irish Rep, is its examination of both the large-scale chaos and the quiet inside, of both the storm and its tenuously peaceful eye." — Stage Magazine
"What's marvelous about the play, and why it richly deserves this handsome revival, is how nimbly Friel portrays all the various elements clamoring for a hearing. AS FRIEL PAINTS A BACKDROP OF MENACE HE SIMULTANEOUSLY GIVES HIS THREE PROTAGONISTS BLAZING LIFE. It's quite a trick that, one that only a master playwright like himself could pull off. Sikora, Seymour and Russell all rise to the challenge of the script with performances that are so nuanced that they quietly steal up on you as the play progresses." — Irish Voice
|Judge||John C. Vennema|
|Judge (January performances)||Peter Cormican|
|Set Design||Charlie Corcoran
|Costume Design||David Toser
|Lighting Design||Michael Gottlieb
|Sound Design||M. Florian Staab
|Hair & Wig Design||Robert-Charles Vallance|
|Dialect Coach||Stephen Gabis|
|Production Stage Manager||Pamela Brusoski|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Rebecca C. Monroe