The 56th West Cork Drama Festival opens in Rossmore Theatre on Thursday, March 9th and runs until Sunday March 19th.
A rich miscellany of drama will take to the stage with a selection to please everyone. Dark comedies (The Cripple of Inishmaan, 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 programme.
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.
Ballyduff Drama Group from west Waterford, will open the festival with their production of The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh on Thursday, March 9th. 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 through this play.
This is followed on Friday 10th by Dungarvan’s Curtain Call Productions presentation of the adult themed 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. This absorbing and confronting play will leave much to ponder.
Saturday, March 11th sees Doonbeg Drama Group from Co Clare take to the stage with award-winning contemporary Irish playwright Conor McPherson’s comic drama The Night Alive. Exploring the daily struggles of luckless, lonely Tommy, his pal Doc and the changes that ensue with the arrival of a ‘bad news woman’ Aimee, this play is described as a ‘comedy of desperation in a Dublin flat’.
Wexford-based Kilmuckridge Drama Group present the Irish classic The Shadow of a Gunman by Sean O’Casey on Sunday the 12th. 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 13th 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 The Odd Couple.
The local Kilmeen Drama Group take to the stage on Tuesday 14th 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 McPherson’s The Weir.
On Wednesday, March 15th Brideview Drama from Tallow, Co Waterford present Brien Friel’s 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 a hero from United Nations service, 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 will provide a great evening’s entertainment.
Holycross/Ballycahill from Co Tipperary take to the stage on Thursday 16th 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 everyday Irish life.
On St Patrick’s night, Friday, March 17th, Nenagh Players present contemporary Irish playwright Marina Carr’s Ariel. 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 16th 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 18th sees Bridge Drama Group from Co Wexford present a classic thriller, The Inspector Calls by JB Priestly. 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. The suspense will keep the audience gripped to the edge of their seats.
On the closing night, Sunday, March 19th, Take Five Drama Group from Castlelyons in East Cork will 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. This is an irreverent, fast-moving and very witty play which will bring the festival to a close.
All plays start at 8pm and tickets can be booked from the festival booking office at 023-8838526 or 086-4481086 from Monday, March 6th, 12 noon to 7pm. 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.