We presented this important new work in Ireland in the THEatre SPACE
@ the mint from April 9th to 28th 2001.
Edward Bond's The Crime of The Twenty-First Century is a unique
work set in a world where humanity battles to define itself in the
face of a ubiquitous oppressive force. A plot summary is contained
in the Irish Times review below. It was an extra-ordinarily demanding
but deeply rewarding play to work on. The entire process left us
with a much richer vision of why we work in the theatre and for
that we are grateful.
The cast was Anna Swords-Murphy (Hoxton); Andrew Buchanan (Grig);
Steve Gunn (Sweden), and Yvonne O' Hara (Grace). It was directed
by Peter Hussey, with Paul Winters designing lighting, John Doheny
designing set, and Laurence Hamill designing costumes. Bonnie Mc
Cormick was Stage Manager and Eileen Fagan Lighting Operator.
We worked closely with Edward Bond on the production (via correspondence)
and his insights and wisdom were invaluable to us. We brought him
over to Dublin (his first visit to Ireland) where he gave a talk
at Project, saw the play, and spent a few days with us visiting
Joycean Dublin. It was revitalising and encouraging for us that
Edward Bond was deeply taken with our production of his play.
Its reception in Dublin by the reviewing media left much to be desired
in terms of understanding, with only one reviewer taking the time
to contextualize the work in a milieu other than that of art-for-entertainment.
The excerpts from reviews that follow are representative of the
general media reaction.
"The plays of veteran British dramatist Edward Bond have not
received much exposure in Ireland, although titles such as Saved
and Narrow Road to the Deep North resonate down the years. Crooked
House Theatre Company is now presenting his most recent work,
The Crime of The Twenty-First Century, which premiered in Paris
in 1999; and it is something of a conundrum.
It is set in the aftermath of a war, and opens with a woman
living in the ruins of a house which still has water, now a
scarce commodity, on tap. A scavenging man tags on to her for
a while, to be succeeded by a younger man, an escaped prisoner
on the run. He has cut out of his body an electronic army tag,
and wants the woman to accompany him on his flight. She refuses,
and he leaves.
Next she is discovered by her daughter, who believes herself
to have been callously deserted and seeks some kind of revenge.
An explanation is offered, and the two settle for a while. The
fugitive returns, hideously blinded by soldiers, and all the
relationships take a darker turn. There is violence and death,
and it ends on an odd note of anti-climactic ritual. It is clear
that the author intends his play to be deeply meaningful, and
to explore issues such as justice, freedom and interpersonal
dependency. Little of this comes across as the characters address
each other in artificial dialogue and the plot becomes steadily
For me, director Peter Hussey and his actors - Anna Swords-Murphy,
Andrew Buchanan, Steve Gunn and Yvonne O'Hara - have created
a diligent production of a leaden, pretentious play."
- Gerry Colgan, The Irish Times (April 13th 2001)
"Edward Bond's play hits all the notes one would expect
in an ode to the atomic age. The struggle to survive is mitigated
by the unwilling but unavoidable need to bond with fellow survivors;
the need to protect one's territory is therefore complicated
by the need to engage in human contact; a raffish charmer comes
on the scene and promises to, and does, all the sorts of bad
things you'd expect a raffish charmer to; violence breaks out
as man proves he's only an opposable thumb away from bestiality,
and there's only one guy left in the world, on his own, hollering."
- Susan Conley, WOW!
"Crooked House have made an admirable foray into territory
that is well beyond the theatrical comfort zone."
- Irish Theatre Magazine
"In those two hours I learned more than I would in a week living
under a plastic sheet in the streets of Dhaka. This was a visit
to the global backyard that I won't forget for a long time."
- Audience feedback, 12 April