The Shaughraun

Play by Dion Boucicault. Heroes... Villains... Lovers... Liars... and Laughter!... The Shaughraun or The Vagabond, is a glorious romp of a 19th century Irish melodrama. Delightfully tongue-in-cheek, that will have you rooting for the star-crossed lovers... and booing the dastardly villain!

1968: West End London Revival with Cyril Cusack

1988: London Revival with Stephen Rea

2005: West End London Revival with Don Wycherley

Premiered on Broadway in New York on 14 November 1874 to instant acclaim, the show opened at London's Theatre Royal Drury on Saturday 4 September 1875 with Dion Boucicault playing 'Conn, the Shaughraun', and again it proved hugely successful, playing for 97 performances up to Saturday 18 December 1875. The first major 20th Century revival in London's West End was presented by the Dublin Abbey Theatre for a two-week season.


1968: West End London Revival with Cyril Cusack

Opened 20 May 1968 (no previews), Closed 1 June 1968 at the Aldwych Theatre

The cast featured Cyril Cusack as 'Conn, the Shaughraun', Fidelma Murphy as 'Arte O'Neal', Desmond Cave as 'Robert Ffolliott', Aideen O'Kelly as 'Claire Ffolliott', Donal McCann as 'Captain Molineux', Patrick Layde as 'Father Dolan', Maire O'Neill as 'Moya Dolan', Geoffrey Golden as 'Corry Kinchela', Peadar Lamb as 'Harvey Duff', Seamus Newham as 'Sergeant Jones', Brid Lynch as 'Mrs O'Kelly', Joan O'Hara as 'Bridget Madigan', Deidre Purcell as 'Nancy Malone', Bronwen Casson, Desmond Ellis, Eoin White, Gilbert K Johnson, Niall Buggy, Paddy Dawson, Patrick O'Callaghan, Robert Brown, Seamus Brennan, and Terry Prone.

Directed by Hugh Hunt, with designs by Alan Barlow, music by Eamon O'Gallagher, and lighting by John Wyckham.

Presented by the Abbey Theatre of Dublin as part of the annual World Theatre Season at the Aldwych Theatre.

This production was first presented, with a different cast, at the Dublin Abbey Theatre in repertory from Tuesday 31 January to Saturday 8 April 1967, with Cyril Cusack as 'Conn' and Desmond Cave as 'Robert Ffolliott'.


1988: London Revival with Stephen Rea

Previewed 30 April 1988, Opened 11 May 1988, Closed 4 March 1989 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre
Returned 10 August 1989, Closed 27 January 1990 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre

The cast for the 1988/1989 season featured Stephen Rea as 'Conn, The Shaughraun', Eve Matheson as 'Arte O'Neal', Fintan McKeown as 'Robert Ffolliott', Felicity Montague as 'Claire Ffolliott', Shaun Scott as 'Captain Molineux', Robert Urquhart as 'Father Dolan', Julia Dearden as 'Moya Dolan', Stephen Moore as 'Corry Kinchela', Anthony O'Donnell as 'Harvey Duff', Ged McKenna as 'Sergeant Jones', Gillian Barge as 'Mrs O'Kelly', Philippa Howell as 'Bridget Madigan', Kate Spiro as 'Nancy Malone', Chris Dunne as 'Donovan', Mark Addy as 'Reilly', Paul Boyle as 'Sullivan', Toby E Byrne as 'Mangan', Robert Patterson as 'Doyle', Alan White, Marjorie Hogan, and Michelle Evans.

The cast for the return 1989/1990 season featured Stephen Rea as 'Conn, The Shaughraun', Stella Gonet as 'Arte O'Neal', Fintan McKeown as 'Robert Ffolliott', Suzanne Burden as 'Claire Ffolliott', Jeremy Northam as 'Captain Molineux', Oliver Ford Davies as 'Father Dolan', Wendy Nottingham as 'Moya Dolan', Geoffrey Hutchings as 'Corry Kinchela', Anthony O'Donnell as 'Harvey Duff', Ged McKenna as 'Sergeant Jones', Bridget Turner as 'Mrs O'Kelly', Janet Whiteside as 'Bridget Madigan', Mary Chater as 'Nancy Malone', Melvyn Bedford as 'Donovan', Mark Addy as 'Reilly', Michael O'Connor as 'Sullivan', Toby E Byrne as 'Mangan', Douglas McFerran as 'Doyle', Alan White, Jennifer Hill, and Judith Sim.

Directed by Howard Davies, with sets by William Dudley, costumes by Liz da Costa, lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Dominic Muldowney, and sound by Paul Groothuis.


2005: West End London Revival with Don Wycherley

Previewed 25 May 2005, Opened 8 June 2005, Closed 30 July 2005 at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre)

A major revival of Dion Boucicault's The Shaughraun in London starring Don Wycherley in the title role

John McColgan's revival comes into the West End following two sell-out seasons at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. The Shaughraun is a terrifically over-the-top, rollicking comedy that will carry you away with its fabulous choreography by Colin Dunne and infectious combination of laughter and energy.

This production was originally booking up to 24 September 2005, but closed two months early on 30 July 2005.

The cast featured Don Wycherley as 'Conn, the Shaughraun', Emily Nagle as 'Arte O'Neale', Stephen Darcy as 'Robert Ffolliott', Fiona O'Shaughnessy as 'Claire Ffolliott', Rory Keenan as 'Captain Molineux', Frank Grimes as 'Father Dolan', Jasmine Russell as 'Moya Dolan', Stephen Brennan as 'Corry Kinchela', David Pearse as 'Harvey Duff', Mal Whyte as 'Sergeant Jones', Anita Reeves as 'Mrs O'Kelly', Billie Traynor as 'Biddy Madigan', Ruth McGill as 'Nancy Malone', Barry Flanagan as 'Donovan', Gerry McCann as 'Reilly', Eric Lacey as 'Sullivan', Peter Daly as 'Mangan', Brian Thunder as 'Doyle', Joe Daly as 'Magician', Brian Swanton, Darren Maguire, Edel Quin, Karen Halley, and Michael Maguire.

Directed by John McColgan, with choreography by Colin Dunne, sets by Francis O'Connor, costumes by Joan O'Cleary, lighting by Rupert Murray, music by David Downes, and sound by Mick O'Gorman.

This production was first presented at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin - previewed 27 May 2004, opened on 2 June 2004, and closed on 31 July 2004 - with a different cast that included Adrian Dunbar as 'Conn'.

"Dion Boucicault was a 19th-century impresario who produced melodramas. He didn't just stage them. He put a rocket in their petticoats and sent them up although seldom as high as in this astonishing production from Dublin's Abbey Theatre company... Some people will think this a Carry On Paddy, a silly mick-take, sub-panto. The opening scenes could do with a trim. Ten minutes in, I was certainly looking at my watch. But once the Shaughraun's crazy mother (Anita Reeves) got going with her shrieks, once David Pearse had started doing a master comic turn as the villain's accomplice, and once the cast had tapped a few Riverdance-style musical numbers, we had lift-off... The Shaughraun was a huge hit in Dublin, attracting families and theatre newcomers in vast numbers. It might not do quite so well here, but it's a merry riot." The Daily Mail

"Directed by John McColgan it's a show that is so desperate to be cute, colourful and charming that all the authentic life has been sucked out of it... In the central role of Conn, the shaughraun who specialises in poaching, drinking and elaborate shaggy-dog stories, Don Wycherley does at least have a certain insolent panache about him, as he bounces around the stage with a cute if alarmingly comatose mutt called Tatters in his arms... I rather warmed to Rory Keenan as the silly-ass, stiff-upper-lip English officer who finds himself understandably baffled by the ways of the Irish. But Stephen Brennan's camp posturing as the dastardly villain of the piece, David Pearse's disastrously unfunny attempts at physical comedy as his sidekick, and the decorative but deadly dull performances of Fiona O'Shaughnessy and Emily Nagle as the love interest all left me cold. This disastrously misjudged production proves a night of cruel and unusual punishment by bogus bonhomie, and I'm astonished that Dublin audiences fell for its fakery." The Daily Telegraph

"Dion Boucicault caricatured his kinsmen as feckless, garrulous, tipsy on romance if not on whisky, and always up for a fight, an intrigue, or a histrionic wake. John McColgan duly gives us more blathering Paddies and cackling hoydens than you could shake a shillelagh at. The contemporary ad libs and sly winks are entirely in keeping with the original material. The set may look deliberately tacky, but it is ingeniously used. And the cast look like they are having more fun than the audience... At its best, this show is a guilty pleasure, at worst a bore. The mock wake for the Shaughraun goes on and on. There is a steadily diminishing return in watching actors send up theatrical conventions that were exaggerated in the first place. One can admire the vigour with which McColgan and his cast attack the play, and the way they honour the spirit in which it was written. But maybe The Shaughraun is best remembered for the theatrical milestone it once was, rather than the play it is now a justly neglected classic." The London Evening Standard

Ben Barnes, the Artistic Director of The Abbey Theatre Dublin, said: "When I invited John McColgan to direct The Shaughraun at the Abbey as part of the abbeyonehundred celebrations in 2004, I was responding to two impulses. Bringing the director of Riverdance, one of the world's most successful shows, and the great entertainer of the late nineteenth century Dion Boucicault together was calculated to deliver a popular, entertaining hit for the Abbey as a counterpoint to the heavy artillery of the Irish and European repertoire that surrounded it. The second impulse had something to do with an acknowledgement that whether the Abbey playwrights of the Irish Revival reacted against the drama of Boucicault or shamelessly borrowed from it, his figure looms large and it is not fanciful to say that he is arguably the father of modern Irish drama. As such his presence in the Abbey centenary programme was appropriate. Following our appearance at the Barbican International Theatre Events earlier in the season with The Plough and the Stars, this is the second appearance of the Abbey in London this year and I hope London audiences enjoy the show as much as we enjoy playing it."

The Shaughraun in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 25 May 2005, opened on 8 June 2005, and closed on 30 July 2005.