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Marvellous was simply magnificent television

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Marvellous ..... Toby Jones as Neil Baldwin, with the real-life Neil on set.

TV Watch with Dave O’Connell

Once in a blue moon, television unexpected throws up a rare gem of a drama – and the BBC Two managed that with Marvellous last week.

Quite simply, there will not be a better hour and a half of drama on the box this year.

Marvellous did many things because it was beautifully made, but most of all it actually achieved the impossible – it restored your faith in the world of professional football.

It told the true story of Neil Baldwin, a man who has what are commonly referred to as ‘learning difficulties’ who goes on to carve out a unique double role for him as an unpaid advisor to students at Keele University . . . and kit man for Stoke City FC.

It was the docu-drama style, the quality of the acting, but most of all, the stranger than fiction story that lifted the soul and produced 90 minutes of the most compulsive viewing you are ever likely to see.

Neil was played by acclaimed actor Toby Jones, but he also featured as himself, as though this was a series of flashbacks through his life.

And what a life – a man whose innocence shone through simply refused to see barriers and thus became a circus clown, inveigled his way into a lifelong role as a university mentor and then topped it off with his dream job at his beloved Stoke City.

Former Potters manager – and Manchester United and Scotland star of the past – Lou Macari also featured as himself but he was also portrayed with eerie accuracy by Tony Curran.

Macari gave Neil the role of kit-man after he found him waiting outside the club’s stadium all day. And it was Macari – who has famously described Neil as his best-ever signing – who made his dream come true by allowing him to come on as a substitute striker in a testimonial against Aston Villa.

If this sounds like the stuff of dreams – or indeed fantasy – then the story of Neil Baldwin is all of that.

And award-winning writer Peter Bowker joined with Julian Farino – best known as executive producer on the smash HBO hit Entourage – to do it every justice.

The wonder really is that they crammed it all into a documentary the length of a football match and yet it still captured all of the layers and drama of a wonderful man’s life story.

But he was also beautifully played by Toby Jones, who was equally convincing on the big screen in the recent past as Alfred Hitchcock.

He never overacted or resorted to cliché – and the dynamic between ‘Neil’ and his devoutly Christian, widowed, elderly mother, Mary (played by Gemma Jones) was wonderfully realistic.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

CITY TRIBUNE

Creating treasure from trash on Turbot Island

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A little girl shows the versatility of Hanneke Frenkel's 'Sea Carpets' on Turbot Island during Clifden Arts Festival.

The saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ proved true as a collection of ‘sea carpets’ made from discarded fishing ropes was one of the hits at this year’s Clifden Arts Festival.

The sea carpets were exhibited on Turbot Island, the part-time home of their creator Hanneke Frenkel. Over the last two weekends, they were snapped up by festival-goers who jumped at the chance to not only take a tour her of workshop, but also to explore an island that many see off the Clifden coast, but that few get to visit.

Turbot, which has been without a permanent population since 1981, has been Hanneke and her husband Stefan’s summer home for almost 30 years, but an extended stay during Covid was the genesis of her sea carpets as the long-time artist sought a creative outlet.

“As I was walking around the island, wondering what to do, I found a huge amount of black rope washed ashore and thought to myself, maybe there was something I could do with it. From that, I started making my first carpet, just for myself, and it all started from there,” she says.

Over the past two years, the colours and style of carpets have changed, but their unique charm has remained. And they, as well as the island tours led by Stefan and Hanneke, were a winner over the past couple of weeks.

“It’s been a huge success and we’ve been overrun by lots of enthusiastic visitors who loved Turbot and the carpets – nearly all have sold out. We’ve enjoyed welcoming the visitors who came on all types of boats and it was all effortless. Everyone had a great time,” they say.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Putting cartoon art in spotlight

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Willy Brennan, Paul Callanan and Richard Chapman of Galway Cartoon Festival at the launch.

This year’s Galway Cartoon Festival, which will officially open in the city this Friday, September 30, at 7pm, is inviting people to draw a line under “the last couple of miserable years” and start having fun again.

The official opening, to which all are invited, is in the PorterShed, Bowling Green and it also marks the launch of the festival’s flagship exhibition, Drawing The Line, in the same venue.

This group exhibition from top Irish and international cartoonists casts a humorous eye on recent events at home and abroad and, as cartoonist and festival co-founder Richard Chapman observes, “there’s no shortage of material”.

Drawing the Line has contributions from dozens of countries, and includes some of the biggest names in the profession. It will be open daily at PorterShed, Bowling Green, from 12 noon to 5pm until the festival concludes on October 9.

The work of Irish cartoonist Jim Cogan will be in the foyer of the Town Hall Theatre. Jim began drawing for Hibernia Magazine while he was a student at the National College of Art and Design. After initially working in the advertising industry, he became a fulltime cartoonist and illustrator, working mostly for the Sunday Independent and Farmers Journal.

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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CITY TRIBUNE

Soup – blending art forms to explore memory and grief

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Deirdre Griffin confronts love and loss in Soup. PHOTO: LUCA TRUFFARELLI.

Soup, a new show that explores grief in an Irish context, using live art and physical theatre, will be performed in an intimate setting in the city’s Black Box Theatre next Monday, October 3 at 8pm.

Created by choreographer and dancer Deirdre Griffin in collaboration with sound artist Craig Cox, it’s performed by Deirdre and was inspired by her mother Mary Heneghan.

Originally from Claremorris and living in Meath, Mary died from stomach cancer in 2013. A keen gardener and great cook, according to Deirdre, Mary’s illness left her unable to eat the nourishing food she created.

Since Mary’s death, Deirdre has been collecting the everyday reminders of their life together and in this 45-minute show she explores these, alongside the surreal experience of watching her mother’s body become something other; her sensation of detachment following Mary’s death; and a series of dreams charting her grief.

Deirdre describes Soup as a live diorama that celebrates her mother while considering her own relationship with the grief of Mary’s death.

She does this by including memory-inducing sensory material, such as the disembodied voices of radio presenters; the tactility of hair; the smell of a herb that may not exist and the warmth of home-made soup.

The Artistic Director of Dublin Fringe Festival, Ruth McGowan, described Soup, which premiered at the 2019 festival, as “a genre-bending performance that rewrites familiar experiences in thrilling, intimate new ways”.

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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