Only Our Own takes place in the dining-cum-sitting room of one upper class family tucked away in the heart of Connemara, Ireland. The play deals with several themes: religion, the difficulties of not-fitting-in, a past that won’t be forgotten and, binding it all together of course, family. It’s a very simple story, told in a measured manner through short scenes that span several years.
The playwright, Ann Henning Jocelyn, is a renowned Irish writer who has previously worked with such authors as Kazuo Ishiguro and Joanna Trollope; her Connemara Whirlwind Trilogy represents Ireland in the UNESCO International Youth Library. Only Our Own is the result of her efforts to understand how Ireland got to where it is today, and reflects on the Irish War of Independence in the 1920s, the difficulty of living with a traumatic past and the gaps in understanding between generations.
Something that you instantly need to get your head around is the fact that all four actors speak in tremendously posh British accents – slightly odd, given that the play is set in Ireland and concerns itself with very Irish matters. There are also a few moments of questionable acting (in particular a death scene that goes along the lines of ‘No! My darling! Nooooo!’) as well as a slightly cliched ‘twist’ at the end. Titania, the daughter, proves to be a rather annoying and uninspiring character, but all in all it’s an easy and enjoyable two hours. The clear star of the show is veteran actress Dame Elaine Montgomerie, who commands the stage with her effortless storytelling – it’s well worth a ticket just to watch her.
Only Our Own is running now at Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street, until 1 February. Tickets from £20. For more information visit the Arts Theatre website. Londonist saw this performance on a complimentary press ticket.