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 magicroundabouttheatre@gmail.com.

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 www.limetreetheatre.ie.

 

Review: A Christmas Carol

69145_10151485230163989_432260590_nMuch like the re-awakening of Ebenezer Scrooge’s festive spirit, I figure this review is better late than never! I got an early Xmas gift of a ticket to go to see Limerick company, Bottom Dog’s new stage adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic at the Lime Tree Theatre on December 12. This was the company’s first foray into children’s theatre and they had the honour of being the first local, professional outfit to grace the stage at the new venue. It was adapted and directed by Myles Breen.

A Christmas Carol has been done to death in terms of stage and screen productions but that’s because it never gets old. It’s a parable easily translated for children, which is about kindness and generosity of spirit. That old curmudgeon, Scrooge—played in all his ‘Bah Humbug!!’ glory by John Anthony Murphy in this case—is a brilliant character. Three ghosts—each representing past, present and future—visit him in an attempt to redeem him but will they convince him to change his ways before Christmas Day?

Murphy was great as Scrooge. Whether grumpy or joyful, he endeared himself to the audience. The all singing, all dancing supporting cast included Pius McGrath, Darren Maher, Joanne Ryan, Marie Boylan and Jean McGlynn. They played multiple parts and imbued all with great enthusiasm and energy.

The ensemble also included Emma Fisher—a puppeteer and award nominated set designer—who was responsible for the excellent stage scenery and puppets used. The set was very versatile i.e. Scrooge’s bed transformed into a backdrop for a daring puppet flight. The puppets, from Tiny Tim to a Grim Reaper-like ghost, were really child-friendly and this element worked very well.

While I approve of not talking down to children, I thought the script was fairly wordy at times. You could feel (and sometimes hear) a few young minds wondering! But that said, it’s good to challenge them. There were plenty of musical and playful interludes to distract so the kids were not bored. They could sing along with Christmas favourites and do the panto classic “He’s behind you!”

All in all I thought the play was enjoyable and engaging. Children’s theatre is difficult to do. Those little people can be the harshest critics! Over 1,300 children attended A Christmas Carol (spread over five shows) and I’m sure they all absorbed a bit of the magic of the piece.

I heart local theatre

On an aside, I think Bottom Dog Theatre Company has had a very productive 2012 with this production and earlier this year with Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. They also staged four rehearsed readings of new plays and piloted a schools programme with a condensed version of Hamlet.

Also, I’d like to congratulate other local companies such as Sídhe TC, Orchard TC, Limerick Youth Theatre and Magic Roundabout TC that continue to make a massive contribution to the local arts scene. This is in addition to amateur groups such as the Quarry Players and the Torch Players and Limerick’s several musical societies.

All of these companies, groups and umpteen individuals keep our cultural pulse strong and one of my New Year’s resolutions is to go to see as many local productions as possible in 2013.

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 www.dolans.ie.

 

Theatre review: Love, Peace and Robbery at the Belltable

I went to see Love, Peace and Robbery by local company, Magic Roundabout Theatre Company, at the Belltable Arts Centre two weeks ago. I wrote a review but didn’t post it at the time but you see, there was method in my madness. The review was earmarked for Irish Theatre Magazine and you can read it here.

Theatre: Love, Peace and Robbery at the Belltable, this Thursday to Sat Nov 26

MagicRoundabout Theatre Company will present Love, Peace and Robbery at theBelltable from this Thursday, November 24 to Sat Nov 26. The play by LiamHeylin—starring Myles Breen, Jay Red and James Moroney—is a “hilarious andmoving play about a post office heist”.

The description reads: “Two ex-cons, Darren and Gary, are just out of Limerick prison and required toattend a daily substance abuse program. This, along with a pair ofcourt-ordered curfews, leaves them with limited opportunity to reconnect withthose they’ve wronged in the past: girlfriends, stepsons and one particularlyput-upon terrier.”

Overcans of Dutch Gold and the occasional spliff , the men reassess their lives,their relationships and the personal responsibility that they bear for thosearound them. The mantra is ‘never again’ but that’s a long hard road beset onall sides by thwarted desires: Darren’s desire to emigrate and reconnect withhis ex and Gary’s desire to regain therespect of his stepson. Both desires could be fulfilled. If only there was a wayto make some quick and easy money…” 

The play was first produced by Cork’s Meridian Theatre Company in 2007 and waswell-received when it played at venues around Ireland. The Magic Roundabout production debuted in July lastand is now returning to the Belltable stage. MR was founded in 2010. Their first production was the intense “stand-uptragedy”, Spinal Krapp by Darren Maher—which went on to show at the Electric Picnic and Body& Soul festivals after a run in the Unfringed Festival (review here). Thecompany did a fantastic rehearsed reading of cult play, Two Gentlemen ofLebowski back in June (review here).

Unfortunately I missed thefirst run of Love, Peace and Robbery because I was on holiday so I’m reallylooking forward to seeing it Thursday night. The director is local playwright and actor, Darren Maher and the play’s producer is another veteran of the arts scene actor/director, Zeb Moore. And remember, there’s a specialplace in Heaven (or insert own derivative of the afterlife >here<) forpeople who support local theatre. 

There’s a short video promo here. Tickets are€12/10 and available on 061-319866 or www.belltable.ie