Big Beautiful & Oldest Woman subjects for local theatre/opera this week

2014 is coming to an end and so is Limerick’s tenure as City of Culture but there is still some great work to come so do keep an eye on the local press and social media for details.

big_beautiful_woman_156x110Two such quality productions are on this week. First up, local theatre company, Magic Roundabout premiere their new play, Big Beautiful Woman, by Darren Maher.

It will run from tomorrow (Wednesday December 10) to Saturday December 13 at 8pm nightly at the Red Cross Hall on Cecil Street. This venue was the off-site setting for the now defunct Belltable Arts Centre when it was undergoing refurbishment and it’s a great space. I’m delighted it is now a new Theatre & Performance Hub for local practitioners to develop/stage work—a purpose it was mooted for way back in 2011 but has now thankfully fulfilled.

The blurb is as follows: “Under the real shadow of a gargantuan puppet, and the figurative shadow of a looming deadline, a ‘resting’ actor and a would-be author pitch a series of increasingly bizarre narratives at each other in an attempt to find the true and historical Limerick-based story that will wow an audience and propel them to the big time.”

“They are hampered in their labours by the attentions of distractingly beautiful French people, a series of embarrassing costume malfunctions, unexpected physical exhaustion and an inability to commit to any one true story that can sum up the city that they love.”

Tickets: Adults €15/Concession €12 and all Wednesday tickets are €10. Booking on 085-2085737 or

This Friday and Saturday (December 12 and 13) The Lime Tree Theatre and Wide Open Opera will present The Oldest Woman in Limerick.

“As you casually pass an elderly woman in the street or on the bus, do you ever pause to consider the treasure trove of life experience that lies within? If her thoughts and memories could sing, what would they say? If her reflections, achievements and regrets could come to life, what would they be like? The Oldest Woman in Limerick is a unique performance celebrating the individual lives and remarkable stories of older people from the city of Limerick told through the medium of opera.”

Devised by award-winning team of Brian Irvine (music) and John McIlduff (text), this opera actually searches for the oldest woman in Limerick and in doing so meets up with scores of individuals with plenty to say.

“Everything is documented and anything might surface in the opera. Bizarre encounters, chance meetings and poignant reflections are all in the mix. Performed by a specially assembled team of singers and instrumentalists with locally based choirs, this specially commissioned opera will engage and entertain you, reflecting a great range of human emotions and celebrating the life-affirming joy of the human voice.”

The cast includes Sylvia O’Brien, Sharon Carty, Emma Nash, Rachel Croash and Limerick’s Sarah Shine.

Tickets are €25/Concessions €20 and are available on 061-774774 and


Spinal Krapp at Dolans, August 2

The one-man play, Spinal Krapp by Magic Roundabout Theatre Company, will make a return to the local stage Upstairs @ Dolans tomorrow night (Thursday August 2).

The intense, hour long monologue—written by Darren maher and performed by Zeb Moore—is a “stand-up tragedy”. It’s a mix of storytelling and soliloquy, peppered with pop cultural references and flashbacks to an interrupted childhood.

The blurb reads: “In the land before time, in the recession before this one, a boy grows up in a big family in an over-crowded Dublin estate. He attempts to endure and adapt to his surroundings by a combination of agoraphobia and escapism: He becomes part comedian and part lunatic, coating himself in anecdotes, jokes and songs, desperately trying to divert attention from the more desperate episodes of his childhood.”

I saw it on its debut at the Belltable Unfringed Festival in 2010 (review here) and it has toured extensively since then.

Doors at 8pm. More details from


Theatre: Two Gentlemen of Lebowski

I went to see a rehearsed reading of Two Gentlemen of Lebowski by Magic Roundabout Theatre Company at The Loft last weekend. I was absolutely blown away by it. It was by far, the most entertaining and brilliantly executed rehearsed reading I’ve ever seen. The uniqueness of the play was reflected in the special efforts made with movement, sound effects and even the occasional musical interlude.

Adam Bertocci wrote the play on the premise ‘What if Shakespeare wrote The Big Lebowski?’ TBL is a cult comedy movie by the Coen Brothers and Shakespeare is a slightly above average playwright, if you’ve heard of him at all? The play quickly became an internet viral sensation, attracting a lot of media and industry attention. Jeff Bridges, the lead role in the film, praised the play saying: “It worked, man, it really worked!” A full production premiered in New York in March 2010 and Simon & Schuster published it last October.

TBL is a screwball comedy involving Jeff Lebowski, AKA ‘The Dude’, who’s a self confessed slacker who spends most of his time bowling and getting high. In a case of mistaken identity, he meets his namesake—the millionaire, Jeffrey Lebowski. When Lebowski’s wife gets kidnapped, he asks the dude to deliver the ransom money. The dude’s friend, Walter, ensures that he messes up the delivery and from then on, events get increasingly bizarre.

You wouldn’t think that a very modern comedy would translate so well to Elizabethan theatre but it does. Both the film and the play are hilarious. My friend hadn’t even seen the film and could still appreciate the play. Shakespeare liked creating comedies of errors and numerous intertwining plots. He obviously had a great sense of humour. After all, the only thing he left his wife in his will was his “second best bed”. His comedies used slapstick, black humour, bawdy jokes and situational comedy. TBL has other Shakespearean elements i.e. a ‘chorus’ in the form of the stranger; good fights and plenty of musings on existence.

And verily, it cameth to pass that purveyors of goode theatre in th’ City of the Treaty, Magick Roundabout, did do a reading of the most excellent comedie and tragical romance. Now take my crap attempt just there; make it a thousand times better and then you have an inkling of how good the script is. Bertocci’s use of language and its nuances is exceptional. I can’t explain so I’ll quote a line or two:

“In wayfarer’s worlds out west was once a man/A man I come not to bury, but to praise./His name was Geoffrey Lebowski call’d, yet/Not called, excepting by his kin.
Tat which we call a knave by any other name/Might bowl just as sweet. Lebowski, then,/Did call himself ‘the Knave’, a name that I,/Your humble chorus, would not self-apply.”

The 10-strong cast—including: Darren Maher; Liam O’Brien; Róisín Connolly; Aidan Crowe; Mark Halpin; Gary Hetzler; Robin Lee; Jim Moroney; Mark O’Connor; Kevin O’Malley and Joanne Ryan—gave energetic performances. Several cast members sang/did crazy foreign accents and two played animals—a Pomeranian and a ferret (just as funny as it sounds). They all seemed to enjoy themselves.

The two stand-out actors for me were Mark O’Connor as The Knave and Kevin O’Malley as Sir Walter. The Knave is permanently confused and louche but in a charming way. O’Connor was very funny and played the character in all his wry, hapless and lovable glory. O’Malley was often scene-stealing as the unhinged, ‘Orient-War’ veteran, Sir Walter. His fanatical sense of justice and ignorance of reason (and Sir Donald) provides some of the best comical moments of the play. O’Malley’s delivery was perfect.

Liam O’Brien said the quality of the reading was down to planning/preparation from director, Darren Maher. That enthusiasm for the material was obvious and I thought the audience thoroughly enjoyed it. The play would read well too I’d say.

There’s great potential for a play by the Bard adapted in the style of the Coen Brothers i.e. A Serious Ham or O-Thello, Where Art Thou? Darren has joked that there might be room for The Beckett Lebowski. I think a better title might be Waiting for Lebowski in which the Dude and the Big Lebowski bowl, sit around drinking white Russians and wait in vain for other characters to arrive.

Any number of genre crossing hybrids could be successful. The copyright on Joyce’s work will soon expire and there’s Broadway/Hollywood potential in Burn Ulysses After Reading. That’s what I did. Ahh, I’m only joking…I didn’t even read the f**king thing!