Take Desire Away,
Venue: Ireland Institute, 27 Pearse Street Dublin 2.
Time: 7.30pm and Saturday matinee up to May 7th.

AE Housman’s ‘The Shropshire Lad’ emotes in ‘Is My Team Ploughing?’ (a poem set to music by George Butterworth and Vaughan Williams), “Is my friend hearty, Now I am thin and pine, And has he found to sleep in, A better bed than mine?” This was published in 1896 – a year after the sensational scandal of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. How brave. How courageous. How honest.

‘Pride Poets’ would do well to hear his words in the modern era in ‘Take Desire Away’. Mansel David (Yes, Minister etc) digs deep into the gentle texts of Housman’s prose and poetry to illuminate what he could and couldn’t say in more hostile times. Imagine a poet and writer being silenced by society who were only willing to publish, read and hear what they predetermined to be ‘acceptable’?
To navigate such censorship with truth is a rare thing indeed and Housman did what all writers must do…tell their own truth.

David’s diction and delivery is reminiscent of those hushed times. It is full of respect. He is ‘careful’ as was required by those times and yet he finds the honesty and integrity of what the writer was brave enough to hint at, validate and imply in wider society, where ruin awaited any openly, or detected gay person.
Housman’s writing and David’s collation of this material shows an admirable grasp of Housman’s literary constraints which dogged many a gay contemporary in his life and times. David’s calm delivery is intelligent and authentic.

We all stand on braver shoulders today. It is good when we are reminded of that and this is good theatre. This was the time of ‘the love that dare not speak it’s name’ and Housman and now David continue to speak truthfully and eloquently. A lovely night of quality theatre and warm remembrance.


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