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Sisters in focus in ‘Helen and I’

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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

Maeve named as Film Fleadh programmer

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Maeve McGrath.

Limerick woman Maeve McGrath has been named as the new Director of Programming for Galway Film Fleadh, taking over from Will Fitzgerald. She will be responsible for curating this year’s festival, which will run from July 11-16.

She previously worked as artistic director of Kerry International Film Festival, producer at Carlow Arts Festival and joint short film programmer at Dublin International Film Festival.

Maeve is involved with  Limerick’s artist-led, community-focused facility, The GAFF where she recently curated a community audio/visual project, Tiny Little Histories, and produced TravFest, a Traveller wellness festival as part of Guth na Mincéirí.

She has a Master’s in Media Studies from Limerick’s Mary I/UL, graduating in 2015 with the thesis, Irish Short Film: The Road To Oscar.

“The Fleadh has a very special place on the film festival circuit, nationally and internationally, and I am delighted to be part of the team that will programme the 35th edition,” she stated.

“I forward to being part of the continued growth of the Galway Film Fleadh and supporting the development of emerging and established filmmakers.”

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CITY TRIBUNE

Mystery of Wolfe Tone’s death

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Leader of the 1798 Rebellion Theobald Wolfe Tone.

Historical entertainer Paddy Cullivan will be at the Town Hall Theatre on Thursday next, February 2, with The Murder of Wolfe Tone, the incredible story of the mysterious death of Theobald Wolfe Tone, leader of the 1798 Rebellion and the man who is regarded as the founding father of Irish republicanism.

In this audio-visual show featuring hundreds of images, shocking new research and a vast array of songs, Paddy works to unravel the secrets and lies around what happened that fateful week in Dublin’s Provost’s Prison in November 1798 when 35-year-old Tone was found dead in his cell.

Tickets for The Murder of Wolfe Tone, which starts at 8pm are €20/18, plus a €1 booking charge. They are available at tht.ie, 091-569777 and at the Town Hall Theatre Box Office.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Funnyman Neil brings latest show to Athenry

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Neil Delamere

Comedian Neil Delamere will bring his new show, Delamerium, to the Raheen Woods Hotel in Athenry on Saturday, February 18.

Audiences can expect hilarious stories, wry observations and quick-witted improvisation as Neil tries to makes sense of the world around him.

Neil is one of the top acts working in the Irish comedy scene today, well-known to audiences for his regular television appearances on RTÉ and BBC, as well as his hilarious sell-out stand up tours.

His shows have received stellar reviews and resulted in several platinum-selling DVDs, while Neil has also written and presented comedy documentaries including programmes on the Vikings and St Patrick which won IFTA and Celtic Media awards.

He also presented a series on heroes from Ireland’s past, Holding out for a Hero, on RTÉ 2.

He’s a regular on BBC Northern Ireland’s popular panel show, The Blame Game, as well as being a panellist on BBC 5 Live’s Fighting Talk and has featured on BBC 4’s The News Quiz.

According to the Irish Times, ‘no TV camera could accurately measure the lightning speed of Delamere’s wit’, while the Scotsman awarded him five stars during an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe, stating: ‘You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more gifted comic at the Fringe.’

He continues to tour at home and abroad and audiences can catch his latest show, Delamerium, on February 18 in Athenry.

Tickets for Delamerium are available from the hotel or at ticketsolve.ie

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