I just wasn’t ready to talk about this play right after seeing it in August, 2014, at the Carnegie in Covington. I love the Carnegie and love going there. And this play is renowned everywhere.
Plus I really wanted to see it, having not seen it, knowing from conversations and from the subtitle: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, what it was about. It’s a musical, which my friend Kathleen loves, so she was happy to go along. And given our schedules that day, we ended up with dinner at the Skyline down near the river.
I didn’t realize it came from real life, and that it was based on the sending off of Irish guys – forced into crimes like stealing bread to feed their families – to Australia. That really changed the picture for me – that Sweeney wanted to know about his wife and daughter all these years later, since he has managed to return to London.
And that they were so near to him, and yet so far.
So he was a crazy killer because his life had been taken from him, and he wanted to get it back if he could. If not, he wanted to punish those responsible.
It just deflated the entire balloon of the evening for me – making light of mindless (English) cruelty, and the sadness of Sweeney’s destroyed life.
But at least, now I know what it is about. The Fields of Athenry – maybe the saddest song every written – as a musical.