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He draws the admiration of David Craig, played with grave earnestness by Jason Butler Harner; they bond — and exchange a kiss — when Craig shows Pyper the stone idols he’s long admired on his favorite childhood haunt, Boa Island.
Pyper, a mad, rebellious character, deliberately cuts his hand and holds it up as the Red Hand of Ulster.Drawing in the play’s historical context also proves dramatically taxing.There are complex political and religious dimensions to be explored: Ulster, in the north of Ireland, was at the crux of the ongoing conflict between a Catholic majority, which wanted to break free from English rule, and a Protestant minority that wanted to remain a part of the realm.The final scene takes place on the morning of the first day of the battle of the Somme, some months later.As a result, and perhaps inevitably, “Observe the Sons of Ulster” has a fragmented quality. London ; Boston : Faber and Faber Mc Guinness, Frank.
Observe the sons of Ulster marching towards the Somme.Likewise, Mc Ilwaine (David Barry Gray), who is haunted by premonitions of doom and a sense of futility, is brought back to dutiful compliance by his more matter-of-fact pal Anderson (Rod Mc Lachlan).The performers all bring a fine sense of specificity to their roles (the Irish accents, refreshingly, are mostly tops), but they cannot easily reconcile the conflict between gritty naturalism and lyricism in Mc Guinness’ writing.Most damagingly, by providing his enlistees with unusual powers of perception throughout the play’s second act, Mc Guinness blurs their authenticity. On the contrary, the playwright deftly establishes the many distinctions among them.Pyper, the smooth-talking joker played with cheeky charm by Theroux, is set apart by his cynical posturing, roots in the upper crust, status as an artist (a sculptor) and ambiguous sexuality.Moore says to Millen, “I can see death as sure as I can touch your hand.