By The Bog of Cats

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Previewed 19 November 2004, Opened 1 December 2004, Closed 26 February 2005 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London

A major production of Marina Carr's play By The Bog of Cats in London starring Oscar-winning Holly Hunter in her West End stage debut.

Set in the mysterious and stark landscape of the bogs of rural Ireland, the play By the Bog of Cats tells the story of Hester Swane, an Irish traveller with a deep and unearthly connection to her land. Tormented by the memory of a mother who deserted her, Hester is once again betrayed, this time by the father of her child, the man she loves, on the brink of despair and heartbreak, she embarks on a terrible journey of vengeance as the secrets of her tangled history are revealed. Powerful and at times hilarious, the drama unfolds towards its tragic conclusion.

The cast for By The Bog of Cats in London features Holly Hunter as 'Hester Swane' along with Barbara Brennan, Brid Brennan, Trevor Cooper, Sorcha Cusack and Gordon MacDonald. It is directed by Dominic Cooke with set designs by Hildegard Bechtler, costumes by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Jean Kalman, music by Gary Yershon and sound by Gareth Fry. Written in 1998, it was last performed during a sellout season at the San Jose Repertory Theatre in 2001, when Hunter first played the role of Hester.

"What [Holly Hunter] clearly found there was, if not a great play, then certainly a great character - one that any actress would ache to play, for it doesn't take us that long to work out that the Hester Swane of Marina Carr's current script is in fact a transplanted Medea, one of the greatest of all characters from classical Greek drama... You can see why Hunter wanted to bring the play to the West End, in that it combines the mythic force of Greek and Irish legendary drama; but that is precisely where the trouble starts. We are dealing here with two very different cultures on stage... they are inclined to drag Marina Carr's script in two different directions, the heart and the head... Like Hunter's performance, it has some marvellous moments. But that doesn't entirely save either, despite wondrous work by Sorcha Cusack and Brid Brennan in Dominic Cooke's ultra-sensitive production." The Daily Express

"There's Holly adorning London's theatreland this Christmas. But why American movie star Ms Hunter chose such a tortuous play as By The Bog Of Cats for her West End debut is a riddle more puzzling than you'll find in any cracker. Holly Hunter, an Academy Award winner for The Piano, is a terrific actress. But in this, Marina Carr's reworking of the Greek tragedy Medea with the action switched from Athens to rural Ireland, Holly sometimes struggles - mainly in maintaining a thick brogue... It's not jolly, but Holly's a real treat - dodgy accent and all." The Sun

"For all her savage intensity - and tiny, sinewy Holly Hunter does fierce determination better than most - she didn't persuade us for a second that she is a bog-trotting tinker who knows and loves every sodden inch of the marshy Irish midlands. Part of the problem is her accent, which is sometimes a holler like a Wild West cowgirl, sometimes a gabble like a Liverbird. And her clothes don't help - less thrift-shop rural Ireland than the enviably chic peasant-style flounces straight from the Toast catalogue. But the real problem is with the play itself. In essence, Carr's piece is a rather conventional tale of domestic jealousy filled with some snappy, crackling dialogue. But she wraps it in folksy, poetic Oirish whimsy... Even a crack cast of Ireland's finest can't overcome the play's flaws." The Mail on Sunday

By The Bog of Cats in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 19 November 2004, opened on 1 December 2004 and closed on 26 February 2005.