By guest blogger John Hartery
The world premiere of a new play is a notable thing and there was a sense of occasion in Garter Lane, Waterford last weekend for Beyond The Brooklyn Sky the latest production by the Red Kettle production company. The play is poised to participate in the forthcoming Dublin Theatre Festval and to tour around a range of venues.
The company drafted in Peter Sheridan to direct the new piece and backed this up with a strong cast of seven actors. The play is by Michael Hilliard Mulcahy an award winning playwright from Listowel Writers’ week.
The initial star of the show is the set designed by Waterford native Ben Hennessy which realistically captures a coastal community hall complete with lobster pots and a deconstructed currach. We know were we are. The next star is the sound which uses Neil Young, Springsteen and that half-forgotten theme from the Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence movie to pitch the genesis of the story in the 80’s. All this is supported by a bunch of iconic LP covers and a turntable.
|Red Kettle Premiere|
The plotline concerns a bunch of fortysomethings who meet again in the small Kerry fishing village and recall how their lives crossed in the eponymous New York borough. One was reminded of the movie The Big Chill. The narrative covers a 24 hour period. Hints of what happened to direct their lives in the Big Apple many years ago are plentiful and gradually uncovered. The story pivots on he return of Greg a journeyman musician, who does a mean rendition of Young’s Helpless, and how his fleeting visit revives memories and provokes decisions.
There are some cliches of the Irish theatre in the play; the returned emigrant, the drunk, and the secrets revealed under inebriation. The works of Billy Roche come to mind. There was a overly heightened sense of melodrama in the the second act.
But the play has some interesting dimensions with the men all coming close to mortality ranging from a foolhardy sea voyage to a possible terminal illness. The women characters were the bedrock of the story and each was memorable: Catherine Walsh as Josie with her fling with the Dutchman and Liz Fitzgibbon as Shannon with her precocious view of relationships and Sorcha Fox a veteran of Ros na Rún the standout actress in the key role of Mags.
It was an excellent night of live theatre that deals with Irish emigration, and love through a modern lens – Skype gets a few mentions. Red Kettle deserves a good run for this ambitious project. I’ll be looking out for further work by Hilliard Mulcahy. The Saturday night afficionados at Garter Lane, who know their theatre, were impressed.
The play runs intermittingly in Garter Lane till Saturday 22nd and then on tour.