Barely seven minutes into episode two of RTE’s mini series ‘Rebellion’ and you could feel the awkwardness in living rooms the length and breadth of the island.
A rather vigorous sex scene between Sarah Greene’s May Lacy and her English lover Tom Turner’s Charles Hammond sent Twitter all a flutter but mostly people were reporting uneasy silences as families gathered round the television.
Episode Two of Colin Teevan’s five part telling of the events of 1916 saw the Easter Rising begin in earnest.
Charlie Murphy’s Elizabeth Butler ditched plans to wed Paul Reid’s Stephen Duffy Lyons and joined Brian Gleeson’s Jimmy Mahon and Camille O’Sullivan’s Countess Constance Markievicz instead as they stormed Dublin Castle.
“There will be other days to marry,” she declared.
“There will not be other days like this.”
Meanwhile Ruth Bradley’s IRB volunteer Frances O’Flaherty led Barry Keogh’s Cormac McDevitt and other volunteers to the GPO, only to be told by Marcus Lamb’s Padraig Pearse: “All women must report to the medical room or the kitchen!”
After revealing she was pregnant to her civil servant lover, May Lacy got called “an Englishman’s hoor” by a rather mouthy Irish Citizens Army member as they commandeered their hotel room.
Turfed out of their love nest, Hammond and Lacy got to witness Pearse read the proclamation on the steps of the GPO and then had to navigate the restless and dangerous streets of Dublin.
Sophie Robinson’s intrepid Belfast woman Ingrid Webster arrived in the city as the Rising got underway and was abandoned by her taxi driver in O’Connell Street.
She made it on foot to Trinity College where her boyfriend, Andrew Simpson’s George Wilson had been recalled amid rumours of “Sinn Feiners” rebelling.
Hammond also managed to make it to Dublin Castle while May rather awkwardly went to his home instead of her digs, only to meet his wife Vanessa, played by Perdita Weeks.
Meanwhile Jimmy Mahon had his first showdown in Dublin Castle with his British soldier brother Arthur, played by Barry Ward, and was allowed to escape with Elizabeth, who was rattled by all the bloodshed she had seen.
Episode Two of ‘Rebellion’ was another handsome production and under Aku Louhimies’ direction, it moved at a brisk pace.
The initial gun battles between the rebels and the British Army were handled well and it brought home the brutal realities of war.
While it remains a good idea to focus on ordinary people caught up in the Rising, Episode Two showed up some deficiencies, however, in writer Colin Teevan’s script.
Most of the English characters, with the exception of Charles Hammond, remain terribly one dimensional.
The same could be said for the leaders of the Rising. Relegated to supporting roles, Pearse, Connolly and Markievicz all come across a bit stiff.
The showdown between Jimmy and Arthur Mahon also felt a little too contrived and convenient.
And while it has been refreshing to see the Rising through the perspective of women involved in the insurrection, Teevan’s script occasionally has a tendency to play to 21st Century galleries.
In spite of this, the lead actors – Murphy, Greene, Bradley, Ward, Gleeson and Turner – remain extremely watchable.
However two episodes in and you cannot help feeling ‘Rebellion’ may stutter like the BBC’s Irish independence drama ‘Rebel Heart’.
It certainly looks like it will fall short of RTE’s excellent Dublin Lockout drama ‘Strumpet City’.
The rebellion of the title may have begun in earnest but it remains to be seen in the remaining three episodes if Teevan’s drama will ultimately fire blanks.
Unfortunately, it is beginning to look little more than a period soap opera.
Dan McGinn is a journalist who was previously the Ireland Political Editor and Ireland Deputy Editor of the Press Association and has worked for the Irish News, Belfast Telegraph and other publications and for TV and radio. He currently works in public affairs and is also a film and television critic with his own blog, They’ll Love It In Pomona covering the latest cinema releases.