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Only Our Own - Arts Theatre

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Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

CtCo Theatre Productions and Heritage Productions UK are presenting the world premiere of Ann Henning Jocelyn’s Only Our Own at the Arts Theatre – from Wednesday, January 8 to Saturday, February 1, 2014.

Focusing on the spectre of the Irish War of Independence as it looms over one Anglo-Irish family, playwright Ann Henning Jocelyn follows the story of three generations from 1989 to the present day, examining the struggle for identity against an ever evolving cultural, political and social landscape.

Only Our Own looks looks at the remnants of Anglo-Irish culture and efforts by the present generation to find a place for themselves in today’s Ireland. The play also explores the dilemma of living with or without a traumatic past; the inter-generational gap between people emotionally linked but faced with different life options; and, ultimately, the need to develop and adjust to a changing world.

Lady Eliza is eldest of a wealthy Anglo-Irish family and the last to remember the night the ancestral home was invaded and burnt to the ground by rebels. Living with her daughter Meg, son-in-law Andrew and granddaughter Titania, she is still haunted by the past. After Titania gives birth to two children, the family has to consider ways to protect the youngest generation from the polarisation of the past.

Director Lars Harlad Gathe said: “Only Our Own excited me because it read like a little family saga from an untold part of Irish history, where the social consequences of the Irish revolution are in the background and the individual lives of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy are centre stage as they move on with the new times.

“The play reveals the dark underside of a religious and political conflict where the victors and losers are enforcing their own little role play, preventing them from healing old wounds. But first and foremost, the play is a very human drama about the gap between old and new generations, the need for change and forgetting versus connecting with your past.”

The Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War was a war fought between 1919 and 1921 by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against the British Government and its forces in Ireland. Many Anglo-Irish (a term used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify the privileged social class) left the country due to the fear that they would be subject to discriminatory legislation, social pressures and attacks on their family homes.

This became a reality with hundreds of stately homes burnt to the ground, the owners’ ancestral lands seized and the families driven from their homes. They remained marginalized and isolated after the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The Anglo-Irish proportion of the Irish population dropped from 10% to 6% in the 25 years following independence.

The cast of Only Our Own includes Elaine Montgomerie and Alex Gilbert, with further casting to be announced.

Ann Henning Jocelyn is an internationally acclaimed author and playwright. Her first play was performed in her native Sweden whilst she was completing a degree in Drama in Gothenburg. After attending drama school in London, she worked with Charles Marowitz at the Open Space Theatre. Since the mid-1980s, she has been based in the West of Ireland, writing eight books such as the bestselling crossover trilogy The Connemara Whirlwind and the inspirational Keylines for a Living which has been published in nine countries including China and India.

Her stage plays Baptism Of Fire and The Alternative and her acclaimed translations of contemporary Scandinavian playwrights Jon Fosse and Henning Mankell have been performed around the UK, Ireland and abroad. Her latest play, Doonreagan, was performed at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre and the ADC Theatre Cambridge in September/October 2013.

Lars Harlad Gathe is an award-winning director and writer for theatre, film and television, originally from Oslo, Norway who is best known for his productions of the plays of Jon Fosse.

Only Our Own is designed by Christopher Faulds, with lighting by Chris Randall and music by Lars Harlad Gathe.

Only Our Own is suitable for ages 12+.

Tickets: £20 – £29.50, previews (January 8 and 9) £15. To book, call the box office on 020 7836 8463 or visit artstheatrewestend.co.uk/.

Times: 7.30pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3pm.

Running Time: 120 minutes (including interval).

Only Our Own will also visit Galway and Dublin.