Thursday September 27th 2018 @ 10:00am. Students €10. Teachers Free. Box office 047 39777
Big Maggie is a compelling vision of the Irish mother as sociopath. Maggie Polpin is a just widowed mother of four living in rural Ireland, now sole owner of the family shop and farm. She a complex figure, far from the cliches of Irish femininity which preceded her. This is a hard-bitten, uncompromising woman who puts her personal security above all other concerns. She rejects the place which cultural precedent has laid out for her and chooses to drive all of her children away rather than nurture them like a mother hen.
The complexity in the play comes from the fact that from Maggie’s point of view, she is always right. Though she is malicious and stubborn, each of her predictions about her children come true. In principle her plan to make adults of them is preferable to the smothering matriarchalism which was the norm even as Keane wrote the play in 1969. Like much of Keane’s work, there is a strong polemical voice running through it which makes it a confrontational text even nearly fifty years after its first appearance.
The audience is challenged by the schism between how Maggie acts and the seemingly good reasoning behind it. One can’t help but feel sad for her as it ends; if more out of pity than sympathy.