Music and Reviews from Clare, Limerick, Waterford and sometimes further afield

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Trip to 'Brighton' for silver anniversary

It is said prophets are not recognised in their own land . The same cannot be said of playwright Jim Nolan in the South Eastern capital, Waterford. Weeks after his play , the Gods Are Angry Miss Kerr had a run at the Theatre Royal,  his most recent play Brighton  (premiered in 2010) was reprised in the commissioning theatre, Garter Lane in the playwrights home town marking Nolan's 25th anniversary of writing for theatre.
 There was a full house on Saturday night for the final night before the company embark on a ten theatre national tour with the author himself in attendance. 

I enjoyed this production under director Ben Barnes and there were strong performances from Andrew Macklin, Gillian Hanna and Christopher Saul.  I hesitate before committing to a whole evening in the company of a relatively small cast and you couldn't help hoping the malevolent Father Mackey or the octagenarian bottom pincher might make an appearance but the production was sure footed and the writing had plenty of wit and humour to stop you itching for the remote control.  I particularly liked English actor, Christopher Saul's voice which had the resonant quality to it  one would expect from an RSC thespian.

In Brighton, in tandem with the sense of an ode to the the triumph of the human spirit, Nolan returns to  a theme explored in The Salvage Shop, namely  the therapeutic power of amateur music  making. Lily is propelled out of her death bed and  anti social Jack is galavanised by the project of forming a choir. Jack's  appeal to Lily has the same quality as Syvie's speech about the imperfect performance in the local town hall being just as important as a Pavarotti concert in one of the world's best venues, a sentiment which has given me much encouragement over the years. It is the striving is the thing , not the end result which matters.

I was reminded of my visits to Cahercalla Community Hospital in Ennis and of the late Jim Cleary who played his accordion every day until he passed away last year at the age of 93. Even as he belted out  The Bucks of Oranmore or the Stone Outside Dan Murphy's Door in a faltering tempo, I had a sense that there was just as much heart to his performance as any on the  Glór stage and never failed to be moved by his playing, his audience just as important as any at a glittering first night,  

Lily's glee at her initiation into the world of gambling recalled  my own  introduction to the world of yankees and trebles and trips to the betting shop when the tedium of the routine of lab work at a Dublin hospital was relieved by the  daily betting routine around a Cheltenham Race week. What fun!

Afficionados in the audience included local writer and broadcaster Éibhear Walsh and his mother. The Cork based acadamic  tells me that he is looking forward to reading from his  memoir, Cissie's Abbatoir  in the study hall of his old alma mater, De La Salle College for the forthcoming Imagine Festival.   Contralto Anne Woodworth spoke to me about her current academic research project into music and health. We also spotted troubadour Francie White who gave a memorable performance during last years festival and will be performing again this year with Dunmore East guitar supremo Gerry Power. 

Link below to Una Kealy's review for the Irish Theatre Magazine

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