Tag Archives: Martin McNamara

Mosley Must Fall – 3.5 Stars


Mosley Must Fall

Lion and Unicorn Theatre

Reviewed – 22nd February 2018


“the low-key performances fail to engage the audience emotionally”


Set during the social upheaval of 1936, Martin McNamara’s new play “Mosley Must Fall” integrates the prevailing social conflicts, placing them compactly under the roof of the McEnroe family. As Mosley and his fascist supporters prepare to march through the Jewish and Irish quarters of East London, Dublin Easter Rising veteran, Liam, tries to convince his sons of the futility of fighting for a cause. But youth sees life differently and each son has his own convictions and predicaments.

Green Curtain Theatre presents this year’s Festival of New London Irish Plays under the title ‘Against the Odds’, this being one of their three works. The script is enlightening and absorbing but the production sometimes lacks direction and with it, a lapse of theatrical contrasts and pace. Aonghus Weber and Fiona Cuskelly give reserved performances as the disillusioned parents, Liam and Maureen, and fail to transmit their deep-rooted worries and anger. Mickey Mason, as their son Jim, adds strength to the scenes with more nuanced acting but is often let down by a want of dramatic response. The unabashed Bernard Duffy (Kevin Bohan), at the risk of occasionally bordering on clownish, lightens the tone and Lisa Lynn plays a confident yet accepting Ruth Cohen, adding another thread to the tapestry of the story. The most powerful moment comes from Michael Black as son Dessie when a final outburst breaks through his cool demeanour.

The spartan set and bleakness of the lighting help to emphasise the frugal lives people were living and this is brought to light by references to food and meals and the recognition of the desperate, scrounging neighbour. Nevertheless, the scene changes could be slicker to avoid the on-stage congestion.

In “Mosley Must Fall” the McEnroe family represents the fractured society, torn by roots, loyalty, generations … This was a time when people lived side by side and helped those in need, but were agonising over ingrained beliefs. However, the low-key performances fail to engage the audience emotionally and, subsequently, create an imbalance in the play’s message. The most striking speech is made in defence of Mosley which, despite the support he gained in London’s East End, is probably not the intended moral focal point. By intensifying the energy and dynamic interpretation of the characters, their conflicts would come across more powerfully on stage. As it stands, it inclines to the more intimate nature of radio – a medium McNamara is very experienced in.

This is a restrained production of a fascinating period in this country’s history with a well-crafted script which reminds us of the many strands which lead to and from Mosley’s instigation of the British Union of Fascists and the parallels past and present. There are some spirited and touching moments, but the tension of the family’s predicament is simplistically handled and expressed.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington


Mosley Must Fall

Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 3rd March

Part of Against The Odds:
Festival Of New ‘London Irish’ Plays



What’s The Story ★★★  


Review of I.E.D. – 4 Stars



Theatre N16

Reviewed – 7th November 2017


“a thoroughly genuine and well-crafted piece”


I.E.D. gets it first full-length outing as part of Theatre N16’s ‘Aftershock’ festival; a month long event featuring plays exploring the aftermath of conflict. This original play, written by Martin McNamara, steps back to the recent past of 2008, as Captain Agnes Bennet (Safron Beck), Army Notification Officer, is tasked with informing the families of soldiers killed in combat of their loved one’s death. Accompanying her on this ‘knock’ is Private Iain Maginnis (Jordan Fyffe), a young man from the same platoon as the deceased. Bennet, a veteran of these calls, appears frustrated by Maginnis’ presence, a tactic the Major thinks will benefit the family, but Bennet thinks will only interfere with her carefully planned regime.


Safron Beck as Captain Agnes Bennet provides a level and nuanced performance, gaining the audience’s allegiance and empathy; a tough task for a character who rarely lets down their guard. Jordan Fyffe’s Maginnis is of stark contrast to Bennet, charismatic with a youthful naivety. Fyffe used the intimate setting of the N16 theatre to his advantage, directing speech at audience members as if they were people from his past. He maintains this intimacy with the audience right through to the final scenes of the piece, where the true nature of the relationship with his fallen comrade is revealed.

Through the perception of Bennet by the male characters, I.E.D. attempts to address the expectations of women with respect to men. We scoff when Major Lawless, played with humour by Matt Betts, suggests that during a ‘knock’ women provide the emotional support whilst men provide the stoicism, as we know that for Bennet and Maginnis the roles are reversed. However, when Maginnis later asserts Bennet is not enough of a woman for being too hardened to the grief, Bennet is debased. The motivations behind Bennet’s tough exterior and fixation with process could simply be read as a mechanism to cope with the trauma of warfare; however, I would have loved to see a more in depth challenge to the societal expectations of Bennet’s character, questioning the gendered roles society ascribes to women and men with regard to emotional labour. In fact, Bennet opens up and reveals more of herself in the final scenes, thus in some senses re-gaining a womanhood, which should always have been afforded to her.

I.E.D. attempts to show the hardening of spirits, caging of emotions and locking away of memories that are required to endure army service. However, despite the often solemn subject matter, the script was peppered with humour throughout. From the director Rebecca Lyons’ note in the programme, it is clear that the production was not without its difficulties, but it’s team accomplished a thoroughly genuine and well-crafted piece that wholly exceeded my expectations.


Reviewed by Amber Woodward

Photography by Kathy Trevelyan




is at Theatre N16 until 11th November


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