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Sisters in focus in ‘Helen and I’

Judy Murphy

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Druid presents Helen and I by Meadhbh McHugh photo: Ros Kavanagh.

Review by Judy Murphy

Even the most mature adults revert to childhood behaviour when they hook up with siblings, slotting into their traditional roles in the family unit and sparking off each other in a way that only siblings can.

That’s the view held by psychologists and behavioural scientists and it’s one that’s explored in Helen and I, the first full-length stage play from Corofin writer Meadhbh McHugh, currently running at Druid’s Mick Lally Theatre.

Sisters Helen and Lynn return to their childhood home to care for their dying father. Over a few days, old wounds open and a healing of sorts is achieved, as they spark off each other, and off Helen’s daughter Evvy and Lynn’s husband Tony.

Lynn’s ruminations as she waits for Helen to arrive, set the scene for what’s to follow. Fixing her very heavily applied make-up, she holds an imaginary conversation with her older sister, making excuses for her love of cosmetics and her sudden change of career. This preparation for their encounter signals an unequal relationship between the two – and there is. But of course, all is not as it seems and that’s what McHugh examines in this play.

Director Annabelle Comyn makes her Druid debut with a terrific cast including Cathy Belton and Rebecca O’Mara as Helen and Lynn, Paul Hickey as Tony and Seána O Hanlon as Evvy – all except Belton are new to Druid.

Aedín Cosgrove’s spare but clever set includes relics of the women’s childhood – an old Pony annual from 1997 and a tattered copy of Jackie are among the items on display before the action proper begins. The sisters arrive, carrying a variety of provisions to last a week – the period that their father is expected to survive.

Apart from Evvy and Tony, they have no other visitors and no contact with the outside world. Strange as this seems, it allows the hothouse atmosphere to become more intense as family secrets spill out and truths finally emerge – the claustrophobic atmosphere calls to mind Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

A new seating arrangement in the tiny theatre offers the audience an almost voyeuristic view, while Comyn’s decision to play the piece on the round –  a rectangle, really – means that people miss some expressions and encounters, but it makes for a really intimate experience.

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

 

 

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway gets ready for Gilgamesh

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Legend of Gilgamesh on the streets of Galway.

The epic story of a young tyrannical king – two thirds God, one third man – obsessed with fame, composed 1,500 years before Homer wrote the Illiad and the Odyssey, will become a familiar experience over the next few months in the heart of Galway.

Because Macnas, the masters of storytelling and spectacle, are back as the legend of Gilgamesh starts to unfold via the Gilgamesh Experience on Macnas.com and on the streets of Galway.

The legend of Gilgamesh will play out online in the lead up to the indoor show in March and firmly roots the world of the characters in the city and landscape of Galway.

It all starts at https://gilgamesh.macnas.com/ with the reveal of the first in a series of specially commissioned films by cinematographer Colm Hogan.

This week saw the story spill onto the streets with the central character of UTA – the one who cannot die – wandering through Galway, with the same character appearing in a stunning mural which went up overnight on the corner of Bridge Street and Dominick Street. The coming months will see more surprise, unannounced pop up live moments in the city.

A dramatic new interpretation of the world’s oldest story, Gilgamesh is a Galway 2020 commission for the European Capital of Culture celebrations and sees Macnas take its traditional theatre and storytelling into new outdoor, indoor and digital territories, bringing the contemporary themes of this ancient origin story to life.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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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CITY TRIBUNE

Last of Liam O’Flaherty’s novels is finally republished – 87 years on

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O’Flaherty....banned novel just republished.

Aran author Liam O’Flaherty’s banned novel The Martyr has just been republished by Nuascéalta – 87 years since its first and only publication, back in 1933.

And with this reprint of The Martyr, Nuascéalta publishers complete their epic task of returning to Ireland the last three major O’Flaherty novels banned by the Irish state.

The Galway novel The House of Gold, and O’Flaherty’s insightful and scathing Hollywood satire Hollywood Cemetery, had already been re-issued.

O’Flaherty’s novels – mainly written in the 1920s and 1930s – collectively address significant events in Irish history and the newly emerging Free State.

Nuascéalta’s return of The Martyr to the book shevles comes as the centenaries of the War of Independence and the Civil War are commemorated.

The Martyr gives O’Flaherty’s take on the battle to control the country’s destiny. The novel written just ten years after the civil war, and published in 1933, brings to life the nationwide Free State attack on the anti-Treaty forces.

One such offensive was the landing at Fenit in Kerry – and Liam O’Flaherty fictionalises this event at “Carra Point” and “Sallytown” (Tralee).

Events around the Free State troop landing and its sequel are seen through the eyes of Sallytown’s defenders and its townspeople, clerical and lay.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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

Musical collaborators for concert in Clifden

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Cormac Begley (centre) with Ye Vagabonds....live at Clifden’s Station House Theatre.

Ye Vagabonds and Cormac Begley will be in Clifden’s Station House Theatre this Friday night; the concert is being presented by Clifden Arts Festival and Music Network and is part of a nationwide tour organised by Music Network.

Ye Vagabonds – Carlow brothers Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn – grew up playing music together and their performances are marked by close harmony singing, tasty accompaniment and their ability to tell a good story in song.

They have played sold-out headline shows in Ireland, France, Switzerland and the UK.

Their second album The Hare’s Lament was released in 2019 to huge critical acclaim, winning the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Traditional Track, and sweeping the boards at the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards where they won Best Traditional Track, Best Group, and Best Album.

For this tour, they’re embarking on a collaboration with Cormac Begley, a renowned solo bass, baritone, treble and piccolo concertina player from a West-Kerry musical family.

Cormac plays solo and in a range of collaborations with Liam O’Connor, Rushad Eggleston, Liam Ó Maonlaí and Lisa O’Neill. He is the founder of the Airt Residential School and the award-winning Tunes in the Church live concert series in Galway and Dublin.

Cormac was nominated for RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Instrumentalist of the Year in 2018 and 2019, and his debut solo album received nine five-star reviews and was shortlisted for the Irish Times Album of the Year in 2018.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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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