The 56th West Cork Drama Festival opens in the theatre Rossmore on Thursday March 9 and runs until Sunday March 19. March may come in like a lion and go out like a lamb but the drama festival will probably have more roaring (of the laughter variety) than any lamb-like bleating! A rich miscellany of drama will take to the stage with a selection to please everyone. Dark comedies (The Cripple of Inishman, The Night Alive), Irish classics (The Shadow of a Gunman, The Seafarer, Ariel), hilarious romps (Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Little Gem, The Telephone Exchange), thrillers (The inspector Calls) and intriguing dramas (Closer, Living Quarters) all feature in this year’s lineout.
The adjudicator Padraig McIntyre (who wrote the popular hit plays ‘The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down’ and ‘A Holy Show’ amongst others) makes a welcome return to adjudicate in Rossmore. Padraic is Artistic Director of Livin’ Dred Theatre Company based in The Ramor Theatre in Virginia, Co. Cavan.
All plays start at 8pm and tickets (€12) can be booked from the Festival Booking Office at 023-8838526 or 086-4481086 from Monday March 3, 12 noon-7 pm.
Please consult www.rossmoretheatre.com for online booking and the festival programme. See below for more details on the plays.
Ballyduff Drama Group from west Waterford, open the festival with their production of ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ by Martin McDonagh on Thursday, March 9. The well-known dark comedy is set on Inishmaan off the West Coast of Ireland in 1934, where the inhabitants are excited to learn of a Hollywood film crew’s arrival in neighbouring island. “Cripple” Billy, eager to escape the poverty and tedium of Inishmaan, vies for a part in the film. McDonagh once said that it is hard to separate the real Ireland from the myths and this is a thread running this play. With resonances from Synge’s ‘Playboy of the Western World’, this comic, endearing and at times very poignant play is sure to have the audience enraptured with its lyrical dialogue and witty banter.
This is followed on Friday by Dungarven’s Curtain Call Productions presentation of the adult themes drama ‘Closer’ by Patrick Marber. The contemporary English playwright investigates the brutal anatomy of modern romance in a drama where the stories of four strangers interweave. They meet, fall in love, and become caught up in a web of sexual desire and betrayal. It was adapted for film by Mike Nichols in 2004 and was a critical success starring Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen and Jude Law. This absorbing and confronting play will leave much to ponder.
Saturday, March 11 sees Doonbeg Drama Group from Clare take to the stage with award winning contemporary Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s comic drama ‘The Night Alive’. Exploring the daily struggles of a luckless lonely ‘Tommy’, his pal ‘Doc’ and the changes that ensue with the arrival of a ‘bad news woman’ ‘Aimee’, this play is (as some critics have described) a ‘comedy of desperation in a Dublin flat’. A wonderful opportunity to see McPhearson’’s most recent critically acclaimed and award winning play.
Wexford based Kilmuckridge Drama Group present the Irish classic ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ by Sean O’Casey on Sunda, March 12. ‘That’s the Irish People all over – they treat a serious thing as a joke and a joke as a serious thing.’ This tragic comedy is set in the Dublin tenements where one resident (Donal) is thought to be a gunman by the other tenants. However he is only a poet who enjoys the mystery and rumour about himself and never anticipates the consequences that ensue. This Irish classic never fails to entertain.
On Monday, March 13, Schull Drama Group present the hilarious Neil Simon comedy ‘Last of the Red Hot Lovers’. A middle aged, married man with a penchant for sexual adventure invites three women to his mother’s apartment to have some ‘afternoon delight’. He gets more than he bargained for in this vintage comedy from the writer of the very successful American comedy television series ‘The Odd Couple’.
The local Kilmeen Drama Group take to the stage on Tuesday, March 14 with the second festival play by Conor McPherson ‘The Seafarer’. This darkly comic play centres on the return of ‘Sharky’, an alcoholic to live with his blind and aging brother, Richard. A drink fuelled card game with their friends leads to an evening of storytelling, surprises and many comic and moving moments. While guilt about past deeds prevail, the hope of redemption shines through. The group won the All Ireland in 2012 with Conor McPherson’s more well-known play ‘The Weir’.
On Wednesday, March 15, Brideview Drama from Tallow Co. Waterford present Brien Friel’s not so well known play ‘Living Quarters’. This play reconstructs a day in the life of the butler family in the village of Ballybeg, Donegal. Frank Butler, who has served all his life in the Irish Army, returns from United Nations service, a hero, to learn of his young wife’s affair with his son from a previous marriage. Rich in lyrical expression, with the use of flashbacks facilitating humorous moments, this play, written by one of Ireland’s greatest playwrights, will provide a great evening’s entertainment.
Holycross/Ballycahill from Co Tipperary take to the stage on Thursday, March 16 with ‘Little Gem’ by Dublin playwright and actress Elaine Murphy. This heart-warming tale of a year in the life of three women from three generations of the one family is wonderfully touching and evocative. Laughter and tenderness abound with stories we can all recognise from current everyday Irish life.
On St Patrick’s night, Friday March 17, Nenagh Players present contemporary Irish playwright Marina Carr’s ‘Ariel’, ‘My God is an auld fella in a tent, addicted to broccoli’. This ‘Greek Style Drama’ focuses on Fermoy Fitzgerald, an Irish midlands politician, who haunted by the ghosts of the past and enthralled by dreams of the future, will sacrifice everything in pursuit of power – even the lives of his wife and family. On the day of his daughter Ariel’s sixteenth birthday, he makes a terrifying bargain with God. This intriguing dark tragedy is a powerfully dramatic play from one of Ireland’s most formidable contemporary playwrights.
Saturday, March 18 sees Bridge Drama Group present a classic thriller, ‘The Inspector Calls’ by JB Priestly. Bridge Drama hail from Castlebridge, Co. Wexford. When Inspector Goole arrives unexpectedly at the prosperous Birling family home, their engagement dinner party is shattered by his investigations into the death of a young woman. His revelations shake the very foundations of their lives, which will never be the same again. The suspense will keep the audience gripped to the edge of their seats.
On the closing night Sunday, March 19, Take 5 Drama Group from Castlelyons in East Cork perform ‘The Telephone Exchange’ by Niamh Gleeson. This comic drama involves four women at a telephone exchange who listen in on the lives of their callers, perhaps to avoid dealing with their own dilemmas. An irreverent, fast moving and very witty play, which will bring the festival to a close with laughter and a smile.
All plays start at 8pm and tickets (€12) can be booked from the Festival Booking Office at 023-8838526 or 086-4481086 from Monday March 3, 12 noon-7 pm. Please consult www.rossmoretheatre.com for online booking and the festival programme.
The Festival Committee would like to thank all the festival sponsors and supporters.