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The Colleen Bawn
By Dion Boucicault

A Co-production with The Lyric Theatre

The Colleen Bawn is a melodramatic play written by Irish playwright Dion Boucicault. A suspense-filled tale of tangled love, misplaced honour and downright skulduggery.

The story of the play involves Hardress Creegan, a young Irish gentleman secretly married to a peasant girl, Eily O’Connor (the Colleen Bawn or “fair-haired girl” of the title), whose family estate can only be saved from foreclosure by his marriage to his cousin and social equal, Anne Chute (the Colleen Ruadh or red-haired girl). Danny Mann acts as Hardress and Eily’s go-between and, through a set of circumstances dictated by melodramatic convention, a glove becomes the token of a misunderstanding that leads Danny to attempt the fair-haired Eily’s murder. All, of course, works out well in the end for the play’s upper-crust characters while Danny pays the ultimate price as a social inferior who goes too far.


  • Cavan Clarke

  • Jo Donnelly

  • Collette Dougal

  • Enda Kilroy

  • Patrick McBrearty

  • Brian Quinn

  • Maeve Smith


  • Director: Lisa May

  • Set & Costume Design: Grace Smart

  • Lighting Design: James McFetridge

  • Composer & Musical Director: Matthew Reeve

  • Choreographer: Jennifer Rooney


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Effervescent, energetic and inventive, The Colleen Bawn is the sort of outrageous melodrama worthy of a bruising from Bruiser and a viewing from modern audiences, its cast and crew battling against hard times in truth and fiction to deliver two hours of well-paced and generally hilarious entertainment strengthened by a richly humane and intelligent undercurrent. For that I am happy to (possibly) go out on a limb and declare The Colleen Bawn Bruiser NI's best theatrical work to date. The Big List
(Lisa May) allows her company to do what they do best, and that is to entertain. The joy in what theatre can do, which is inherent in all Bruiser’s productions, is here in spades. It results in their most successful production to date, celebrated by the sheer exuberance and inventiveness of this fine ensemble who appear to be having as much of a ball as the audience watching them. No More Workhorse
Incredible role-switching performance from such a talented cast. Energetic, inventive, funny – with a well-deserved standing ovation. This has been my favourite production so far this year. A great evening of entertainment. Go and see as you will not be disappointed. Love Belfast
Through masterful storytelling and Boucicault’s inventive use of language, we follow the story of Hardress Cregan and his battle between family honour and his true love for the mesmerising ‘Colleen Bawn’. Laura Caldwell, Pastie Bap
Hilarious and celebratory! The Stage
It’s all performed with such pace, panache and good humour – complete with happy ending – that we leave the theatre with a smile on our faces. Entertaining theatre at its best. The Deadhead