Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Lislea Drama Festival – Final Week!

The Lislea Drama Festival Committee are delighted with the standard of the 2016 festival to date and are looking forward to a well-attended awards night on Saturday night. Last week brought festival stalwarts Sillan Players, Co. Cavan with “Big Maggie” by John. B. Keane. On Saturday night Glenamaddy Players returned from Co. Galway with the psychological drama “Night Mother” by Marsha Norman, and Newtownstewart Theatre Company brought the rousing play “The Factory Girls” by Frank McGuinness on Sunday night.  All performances were eagerly awaited and didn’t disappoint!

The final week of the drama festival will commence on Wednesday 9th March 8pm with our very own All-Ireland Finalists Lislea Dramatic Players performing “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” by Neil Simon. This touching story revolves around the escalating problems of middle aged New Yorkers Mel and Edna. Having just lost his job and enduring an intense summer heat wave, Mel struggles to deal with a prolonged garbage strike, noisy neighbours, and the daylight robbery of their apartment. He eventually suffers a nervous breakdown, but it’s the loving care of Edna and his family that helps bring him back to a firm reality. Due to the popularity of this show, patrons are asked to come early.

Clanaboggan Drama Circle  will perform their latest play “It Runs in the Family” by Ray Cooney on Saturday 12th March (Awards night) and patrons should note the earlier start time of 7.30pm. This hilarious comedy is based in a hospital on the night before Christmas, when Dr. Mortimore is about to address a neurologists’ conference with the possibility of getting a knighthood…however hysterical circumstances prevail…will Dr Mortimore get there in time? This really is a production not to be missed and will be followed by the final adjudication by Mr Martin Maguire ADA concluding with the presentation of awards.

Tickets will also be available on the night at the Box Office from 7- 8pm except Awards night – Curtain up 7.30pm. Nightly Admission: Adults £7 Concessions £3. General Inquiries Tel: 02830838565. See our website for Festival Programme at  follow us on Twitter @LisleaDramaFest and find us on Facebook.

• Lislea Drama Festival Reviews • Lislea Drama Festival Reviews

Glenamaddy Players, Co. Galway Saturday 5th March

‘Night, Mother’ by Marsha Norman

Patrons in Lislea were treated to a show described by Festival Chairperson John Campbell as being “good stuff….but strong stuff” and the Glenamaddy Players certainly didn’t disappoint. This hard hitting show was about a daughter and her mother playing out a psychological drama that is the culmination of a lifetime of poor communication and limited understanding which concludes in the ultimate decision by the daughter to take her own life. Martin Maguire, the festival adjudicator described this play as a “fantastic piece of theatre” beset with difficulties as there is a huge amount of text for two actresses to interrogate. He felt that the actresses did a “marvellous job of keeping it interesting” especially keeping the audience held in desperately tragic moments and during lighter moments. Mr Maguire said that the “truth was sold” to the audience as the actresses were “comfortable with each other and were affected by each other”. The audience felt as though they were onlookers on this desperate story and this was testament to the actresses and the direction. Despite the “performances filled with passion” the adjudicator pointed to areas that could be improved. The players should not assume their fate within the play and work harder to try to “win the argument” and this would “freshen up” the play. Further commendations were made with regard to the set and Mr Maguire made specific reference to the gunshot as “working very well”. Martin Maguire thanked the cast, crew and director on giving the festival “one helluva play”.

Pomeroy Players, Co. Tyrone – Sun 28th February “Da” by Hugh Leonard

Last Sunday, festival patrons were treated to an enjoyable night out with the show “Da” by Hugh Leonard and performed by Pomeroy Players from Co. Tyrone. Coincidently, this play was first performed in Ireland in 1973 and the part of Oliver was played by the famous actor Frank Kelly who recently passed away. Martin Maguire, festival adjudicator told the audience that this show was “very autobiographical” as the playwright was raised by adoptive parents and the story reflected this. This was a very “enjoyable play” with lots of “sentiment and lots of truth in it”. The adjudicator praised the work of the director with regard to “how well the stage was used” and the use of “gorgeous lighting effects” and commended the set design team with a round of applause. Mr. Maguire paid tribute to the director especially in the way the play was cast with “lovely performances throughout”. In particular, he praised the performance of Eilis Kelly as Mother as she “attacked her part with energy”.  Oliver, played by Plunkett Mc Aleer “showed his awkwardness well, with a good physical edge” and Young Charlie, David Gray gave an “enjoyable performance”. The adjudicator commended the performance of Majella McCallan as Mary Tate, as she had to play cynical, brazen, and friendly in such a short space of time. Finally, Mr Maguire applauded the performances of Da, played by Plunkett Nugent and Charlie, Sean Hurson who were “fun to watch” and who “told a damn good story well” concluding with giving festival patrons “a damn good night out”.

D.A.D.S, Dunmore, Co. Galway – “The Gigli Concert” by Tom Murphy

Last Saturday, Holycross –D.A.D.S Dunmore, opened the 35th Lislea Drama Festival with their production of “The Gigli Concert” by Tom Murphy.

This fiercely satirical and beautifully crafted play was about the endurance of the human spirit and our ability to achieve the impossible. JPW King is a ‘Dynamatologist’ caught between the demands of Mona his mistress, Helen the unattainable love of his life, and an Irishman who wants to sing like Gigli.

The adjudicator Martin Maguire described this play first performed in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 1983 as a “modern masterpiece” which is “intensely dramatic” but that it places “enormous pressure on the performers and the directors” to get right. The physical presentation of the set was commended and described as being “absolutely marvellous” and Mr. Maguire particularly commented on specific items such as the pictures on the wall being suitably askew, the professional lettering on the door and the old telephone. The lighting and sound was described as being “very good” with only little areas to be improved.  Mr Maguire felt that there needed to be a discussion between the “very strong actors and the director” to ensure that there is more engagement and eye contact to ratchet up the tension throughout the performance. However the adjudicator felt that there was “good acting, with great moments throughout”. He loved the actors’ range they “played pathetic, played strong, comedy and tragedy…and worked hard to hold onto us”. Mr. Maguire “really enjoyed” Ollie Turner’s portrayal of JPW King, and felt that Joan Walkin who played Mona, gave a “brave and strong performance”. The adjudicator paid tribute to the performance given by Martin Silke as the Irishman, describing it as being “fascinating” showing the audience that he had a “real knowledge of his craft”. The adjudicator concluded that this was a “really good, well considered production of a difficult play” which fulfilled many of the demands and succeeded in giving patrons a lovely evening of theatre.

Lislea Drama Festival Review:

‘Big Maggie’ By John B. Keane

Sillan Players, Co. Cavan – Wednesday 2nd March

All roads led to Lislea on Wednesday last, such is the attraction of this powerful play. There was temporary grid lock and patrons waited patiently in the inclement weather to get the hotly anticipated seats and the performance didn’t disappoint. Mr Maguire paid tribute to the “buzz and excitement” that filled the Old School House Theatre with a “magical energy” which is every groups dream. This was a “fantastic show played with great energy and pace” which was complimented by a “very authentic set” with “beautiful lighting and sound effects”. The adjudicator pointed to the set change after the funeral scene which was accomplished in a sombre manner. Mr Maguire praised the director Paddy Farrelly for the wonderful “characterisation and casting” but pointed out that more interaction was needed between the characters to highlight growing tensions within the play. In particular, the adjudicator commended the old couple, especially the performance of Clare O’Reilly who played Mrs Madden as well, as giving a “wonderful, easy natural” portrayal. He also pointed to the “great, natural” performances of Katie and Gert. The sons Maurice and Mick were “well cast and suitably different” giving believable performances. Mr Byrne, played by Brendan Farrelly had a “fantastic stage presence” and had the “audience in the palm of his hand”. Teddy, the travelling salesman, gave a “charming” performance but needed to engage and interact further with Maggie. Finally, Mr Maguire paid tribute to Audrey Gaughan who “gave the audience great entertainment” and complimented her range, from high energy to her “softly spoken monologue”. However, he felt that the part required a large degree of certainty and this was not felt at all times. When she was “in control she was fantastic”. Mr Maguire concluded that Sillan Players gave the patrons a “wonderful night” and that “amateur dramatics is alive and well in south Armagh”.