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Feb 11 2016

Patrick McCabe hails Decadent's version of The Dead School

ONE OF the very best shows at last year’s Galway International Arts Festival was Andrew Flynn’s brilliant large-cast staging of Pat McCabe’s The Dead School. The production was presented by the combined talents of Galway Youth Theatre and Galway Community Theatre, and Flynn has now re-assembled the same cast for a revival by Decadent Theatre Company at the Town Hall Theatre.

Pat McCabe’s 1995 novel was first done on stage by Macnas at the 1998 Galway Arts Festival and he later re-worked it for a 2008 production by Livin’ Dred. Flynn has taken McCabe’s script, written for a cast of five, and fleshed it out with material from the novel enabling him to make full use of his much larger ensemble.

The play’s two main protagonists are headmaster Raphael Bell and young teacher Malachy Dudgeon. Raphael is a product of the War of Independence era and is completely in thrall to the patriotic shibboleths of Mother Ireland and Mother Church. Malachy is a child of the sixties, and a pot-smoking enthusiast for the times that are a-changing. The resultant clash between old and new generates plenty of friction but Raphael and Malachy also have much in common. Both have been scarred by childhood trauma and, over the course of the play, the two men, unable to cope with the world around them, steadily go to pieces.

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