By Con Downing
DETAILS of the 54th West Cork Drama Festival were announced last weekend at a reception in St Mary’s Theatre and has a good, varied programme with a number of new plays not seen previously in Rossmore.
The festival will run from Friday, March 13th to Sunday 22nd, inclusive. Tickets are due to go on sale on Monday, March 9th, and are usually snapped up pretty quickly.
It will be opening with Amphitheatre Company from Kilkee’s production of Jennifer Johnston’s The Desert Lullaby. Moving between Ireland of the emergency years to the present day, this moving and at times hilarious and shocking play explores the events that shaped the lives of two women.
Saturday 14th sees Rasper Players from Wexford presenting contemporary Irish playwright Marina Carr’s intriguing Woman and Scarecrow. Filled with black humour, this provocative play focuses on a woman’s self-exploration of her life past and present.
The opening weekend is completed by Doonbeg Drama Group’s presentation of one of Arthur Miller’s classic plays, The Price, on the Sunday. Family secrets and duplicity are at the heart of this engrossing classic American play, where things are not always as they seem.
Rossmore regulars, the Shoestring Theatre Company from Charleville, bring the contemporary Irish play, Trad by Mark Doherty, to the festival on Monday 16th. This lyrical and musical play, looking at a changing Ireland through the eyes of a father and son, was the very popular All Ireland-winning play for the Millrace Drama Group from Cavan when the final was staged in Rossmore in 2013.
On St Patrick’s Night, Skibbereen Theatre Society will stage Family Plot by contemporary Armagh playwright Daragh Carville. A darkly-comic play, focussing on family dynamics across the generations in the afterlife, this play – new to the West Cork Drama Festival – is sure to captivate an adult audience.
Wednesday, March 18th, sees the local Kilmeen Drama Group’s production of Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden. This provocative moral thriller is an international classic, which is sure to have festival goers gripped and pondering to the end. This play is not suitable for children and contains gunfire.
On the Thursday, Fermoy’s Palace Players present the popular Tom Murphy play Conversations on a Homecoming. The reunion of an émigré with his friends in Ireland in the 1970s is the focus of this play, which explores the tensions faced between leaving and staying. This taut play has moments of great humour and poignancy and is always a favourite amongst drama audiences.
Ballyduff Drama Group, from West Waterford, present Takin’ over the Asylum by Donna Franceschild on Friday 20th. This hilarious and very moving play is another new play to the festival. Originally a screenplay that was televised in the UK in the 1990s, the playwright revised it for the stage and presents a tender and humorous exploration of social attitudes towards mental illness.
The following night sees Wexford-based Bridge Drama Group present Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Well-known as the basis for the musical film My Fair Lady, this witty play is packed with memorable one-liners which will have festival goers chuckling.
On the final night, Sunday, March 22nd, Brideview Drama Group from Tallow present the second Marina Carr play on the programme, Portia Coughlan. Infidelity, incest and domestic violence are at the heart of this tragic and darkly-humorous play set in the Irish midlands in the 1990s.
The adjudicator is Brendan Murray, artistic director of Áras Inis Gluaire - Erris Arts Centre, Belmullet. Having acted professionally for 20 years, including Ros na Rún, he now directs primarily.
Tickets are great value at €12 per night.