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Fine production of dated melodrama

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REVIEW – The Colleen Bawn – Druid Theatre

Stage Irishry is to the fore again in Druid’s latest production, Dion Boucicault’s The Colleen Bawn, directed by Garry Hynes which opened on Tuesday night in the city’s Black Box Theatre.

The play, which got its first outing on Broadway in 1860, before going on to become the toast of London in the winter of that year, and later wowed Dublin, is based on a true and tragic story from Limerick in 1819, in which a young woman was murdered on her husband’s instructions. But Boucicault’s The Colleen Bawn, being a melodrama, has a happy ending, despite a few darker moments.

There’s love between members of different social classes and the problems that brings, confusion as to who is having an affair with whom, issues of money, social status, murder and an abundance of cute Irish hoors.

That this play provoked such hilarity in Victorian London and Dublin less than 13 years after the tragedy of the Great Irish Famine speaks volumes about that particular era. From that point of view, it’s an interesting piece of dramatic history.

But remove it from that context to today’s setting and it’s a pretty fluffy piece of work, for all its enjoyable linguistic gymnastics.

The landed Hardress Cregan (Marty Rea) is in a dilemma, having secretly married a peasant Irish girl, the eponymous Colleen Bawn (Kelly McAuley), an impetuous act which has put his family fortune in jeopardy. Marriage to his wealthy cousin Anne Chute would offer an ideal solution – but she doesn’t know he already has a wife. Besides, her heart belongs elsewhere.

An answer to Hardress’s dilemma is offered by his loyal manservant Danny Mann – played by Aaron Monaghan, who seems destined to be cast as Druid’s resident cripple. Throw in Hardress’s protective mammy, an archetypical Irish priest, an old crone and a few more stock characters for good measure and there’s room for lots of confusion and laughter, as well as one shocked intake of breath.

Druid’s production is terrific with fine performances from its ensemble cast, some of whom double up in roles. Aisling O’Sullivan as Anne Chute, after a rather low-key entrance, is especially good. She huffs and puffs around the stage as the wronged woman and her linguistic acrobatics are fantastic.

Rory Nolan as Myles-na-Coppaleen, the roguish poacher and poitín maker, who turns out to possess both integrity and intelligence, also turns in a fine and funny performance, as does Maeliosa Stafford as the sleeven land agent, Mr Corrigan. 

Francis O’Connor’s modernist set, Ben Ormerod’s intense lighting and an ensemble performing live music add to the experience.

But these lavish production elements – with bells, whistles and shillelaghs – only serve to highlight the fact that this play is one step up from pantomime; if someone had shouted out ‘he’s behind you!’ at certain points, it would have come as no surprise.

There’s no question but this is a fine production. The more salient question is why such energy and resources went into staging this particular drana at a time when theatre could play a more useful and unique role by dramatically – even melodramatically – addressing issues facing contemporary Irish society.

CITY TRIBUNE

Work for children of all ages in extended Baboró programme

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Grand Soft Day, a new co-production from Branar is for children aged three to six.

The 26th annual Baboró International Arts Festival for Children will take place from Friday, October 14, to Sunday, October 23, in theatres, galleries, schools and communities in Galway City and County.

This year’s extended 10-day festival will have more than 50 live events, presented by companies from all over Ireland and Europe, including Belgium, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Scotland and England.

These will include a special collection of European work made for children up to six years, as well as residencies in special schools and child-led projects.

Children aged eight and older are invited to join the surreal world of Der Lauf, where nothing is quite as it seems. In this show, two circus performers from Belgian company Le Cirque du Bout du Monde, compete in a series of bizarre challenges as they juggle blindly, spin plates and stack glasses, while wearing boxing gloves. As the glasses rise, so do the stakes. The children are their only guides and will either help lead the clowns to order or towards further chaos.

Ballet Ireland will present The Glasshouse, a dance performance for children aged six and older. It is the story of Fiach, an earnest youngster who is on a mission to repopulate the world with plants and turn it green. This fun, compelling show, by exciting young choreographer Róisín Whelan, is about human courage, friendship and the determination to survive. The Glasshouse promises “moments of suspense and joy, exhilarating dancing, vibrant costumes and magical music”.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

A feast of Butlers at the Kenny Gallery

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The Butler family, from left: Liam, Ronan, Lisa and Davin.

Sculptor Liam Butler will return to the City’s Kenny Gallery this Friday night, August 12, for his first exhibition in more than 10 years. The new show, Copper Roots, is an even more special occasion for Liam as it will be his first time exhibiting alongside his children, Davin, Lisa and Ronan.

Liam is a self-taught sculptor who has been creating and exhibiting work for almost 30 years. He has passed on his craft to Davin, Lisa and Ronan, teaching them the techniques he developed throughout his career, as well as his love for copper and its artistic possibilities.

In 2020, during Covid, the Butlers were all together, back home in Galway for the first time in many years. They rekindled their passion for sculpture, spending time in Liam’s workshop, creating   new work, alongside each another.

There was learning, creativity and experimentation, they say. The resulting exhibition at Kennys’ celebrates reconnecting with family roots, and passions passed on from generation to generation.

A welder by training, Liam grew up on a small farm in Kilkenny. He worked in Germany and America for years before returning to Ireland, settling in An Spidéal where he began experimenting, using the skills he learned as an industrial welder to create simple sculptures from steel.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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Connacht Tribune

Sisters in perfect tune for unique musical snapshot

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Breda and Claire Keville, photographed by Nutan. (Inset) The sisters, as depicted by artist Isabel Alegria, on the cover of the album.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“A snapshot in time,” is how musician and composer Claire Keville from Claran, near Headford, describes Music from Galway, the new CD which she and her sister Breda have just released.

With Breda on fiddle and Claire on concertina, it’s a gorgeous collection of music from all parts of Galway and beyond, a mix of slow airs, gigs, reels and marches. The sisters are accompanied by guitarist and longtime musical friend Terence O’Reilly on several tracks, which they recorded in the studio of his East Clare home in April of this year.

Claire, a French and Music teacher in Coláiste Iognáid (the Jes) in the city for the past decade, and Breda, who works as a radiation therapist in UHG, have previously released solo albums. Breda’s, The Hop Down, was released in 2006 and The Daisy Field, from Clare came out in 2009. Each guested on the other’s album, but this is their first joint recording, a project they’d been discussing for years.

When it did finally happen, it came together a lot more quickly than either of them had anticipated.

“I didn’t think we’d have it done this year,” says Breda, as Claire recalls that they discussed its timeframe in April, while driving from Galway to Terence’s home in Clare.

After that first day, when they recorded 10 tracks and realised that most of them would make the album, they reckoned it was achievable. Another session in An Spidéal with musician, ‘talented engineer and general all-rounder’,  Ronan Browne, convinced them it was and Music from Galway was launched at the Willie Clancy Festival in Miltown Malbay in July.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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