Review: ‘Inheritance’ at CRAIC Theatre

InheritanceIt is good enough having a great theatre in our town, but to have a local staging his own play there which one audience member described as “Friel-esque” is something else.

‘Inheritance’ is Saint Patrick’s Academy English and Drama teacher Mark Shields’ debut play about a con man who tricks a Mid Ulster family into giving him thousands of pounds. They believe he is their millionaire relative dying of cancer, but is he really Matt Burke?

While it did become predictable just before the interval, watching events unfold thereafter was nonetheless very enjoyable. This was probably down to that aforementioned ‘Friel-esque’ factor which was a particularly accurate description when looking at Shields’ characters. We had John R, the greedy farmer who wanted Matt Burke’s 13 acres of land because it ran alongside the land he already owned. Then there was Gerard, the money grabbing building contractor who’d do anything for a few more acres to squash some houses on. Finally there was Michael, the play’s most likeable character even though he was accused of not being a “goer”, which is of course a damning indictment in rural circles.

Despite the story turning out to be predictable, the moment when the play’s twist was revealed drew gasps from the audience. The success in this was undoubtedly down to a good script and excellent acting which was as natural as it was convincing. There were no uncomfortable moments or occasions when the actors had us questioning their ability. Instead, I had complete confidence for the duration of the show, which is an added bonus for amateur theatre which quite often has its moments of uncertainty.

It would be great to see more plays written by locals and staged at CRAIC with the same success enjoyed by ‘Inheritance’. Hopefully, the positive reactions to Shields’ play will give others the confidence to put their own work forward. Is this the beginning of a new chapter for CRAIC Theatre? I for one hope that it is.


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