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Alone It Stands
New Straits Times
Alone It Stands is a fun and witty re-enactment of an important event in Irish history where, against all odds, the Irish Munster rugby team trounced New Zealand’s All Blacks 12-nil.
By Gerald Chuah

The stage is just the size of two king-sized mattresses, painted green to look like a football pitch. In the play Alone It Stands, six actors flesh out 62 characters as they attempt to retell the rugby match between the Irish Munster and the All Blacks of New Zealand in October 1978. The Munsters won with a 12-nil score.

The comedy was written and directed by John Breen.

Breen did a fantastic job retelling the story, an important event in Irish history, down to the details. “Rugby is a religion in Limerick and it would be heresy if I did not get the details right,” he said.

The myriad of oddball characters included Tony Ward, the Munster Team, the All Blacks and their coach, two fanatical Limerick supporters desperate for tickets, Sinbad the dog, and the Bunratty medieval singers.

The characters were witty and fun to watch as they switch roles while maintaining their Irish accent.

Breen said although the play seemed to come to the audience with a blast, with so many things happening at once, each player had a role to play.

Dressed in rugby costumes, black during the first half, and red in the second, the actors gave the play a sense of realism with slowmo shots, scrum and line up.

The only thing missing was the ball, but even this was enacted by one of the actors who “flew” through the air, observing the atmosphere in the stadium and crowd responses.

During half-time, the narrator said that when the stadium was quiet, one could hear a dog barking in the distance, as everybody held their breath in anticipation of the outcome.

Even though it was just a play, one could feel the celebratory spirit in the air, reliving the David and Goliath story that begged to be told again and again.

The Irish were proud of their victory and celebrated the anniversary of the game each year.

In the beginning, Breen designed the play for rugby clubs in Ireland but it soon made its way to theatre venues as well.

Since its debut at the Edinburgh Festival in 2000 and its subsequent season in the West End, the play has been seen by 200,000 people in Ireland and has travelled to Britain, Australia and New Zealand!

The Australian production in New Zealand, however, was not very well received, as it poked fun at the New Zealanders. Breen said compared to other sports, rugby is more suited for the stage as it is more structured and visually appealing with scrum, line-up and so on.