‘Irish Theatre Players’ One-Act Season – 2017’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by September 7, 2017

‘Irish Theatre Players’ One-Act Season – 2017’ is being presented by The Irish Theatre Players – now in their 36th year – at the Irish Club WA, 61 Townshend Road in Subiaco. The reputation of this joyful theatre troupe has become highly regarded for their acting ability (regularly winning major community theatre awards), and the warmth of their reception.

Originally only performing classic Irish plays, it was felt that these could be a little ‘heavy’ and that a lighter mix of contemporary plays was required, so now the Players are happy to give a broader selection.

The two-hour performances for this short run start at 8.00 pm each evening until Saturday 9th September, with a 2.00 pm Sunday matinee on the 10th.

All of the Acts were stage managed by Kate Smith, with the teching by John Spurling and Adam Trewenack.

 

‘The Loan’ is a very dark drama with comedy interludes. It was written by the prolific, Noel O’Neill, whose works are always a favourite with the theatregoers.

The scene is a spit and sawdust pub in Dublin.

         Fun-loving, but irresponsible Bobby (Brian O’Donovan) is supping a pint and enjoying craic with the barman, Pat (Stanley O’Neill), when he recognises a voice ranting outside. To Bobby’s horror it is mad thug Billy (Aidan Murphy), who is searching for Bobby and repayment of the money he loaned him.

        No sooner has Billy left the pub, than an attractive young woman calls in, this is Sheena (Alexa Ayu) who is also looking for Bobby, but for a very different reason.

 

Directed by Noel O’Neill, this play was not quite up to Noel’s usual standard. The cast were generally strong, but the pace was a little slow. The story line was fairly predictable, but the ending did come as a surprise.

This Act gave us all a good laugh and a few life messages.

 

‘Gymbo Bingo Wings’ is a very funny comedy, written by Mancunian, Liz Quigley. Liz developed her initial theatre skills with the Octagon Youth Theatre in Bolton and then studied Creative Writing at Curtin University.

In Australia, Liz has regularly been a Wardrobe Manager, but her sole stage role was as the Virgin Mary – yes start at the top and work your way down? – In ‘Hail Mary’ at the Old Mill Theatre.

 

The scene is a village church hall in the North West of England.

      ‘Chunky’ Brenda (Jacki Gahan – what energy) runs a keep fit class for women over 45 who have bingo wings (the loose flesh hanging under the outstretched arms). The numbers have been dropping off, in fact she only has two regular members, Helen (Kate Smith) and Daphne (Jenni Glassford), and so Brenda placed a flier in the chip shop window. This notice attracted Frances (Mary Carroll) and Jean (Cathy Parr). Soon the new girls were happily moving to the pounding music – happily that is, until Marjorie (Rochelle Veness) an old neighbour of Frances arrives at the class. Soon the heart rates really do get pumping.

This hilarious play was directed by the author, Elizabeth Quigley. Liz has created and developed some very different personalities, beautifully portrayed by the cast, but as often happens with a writer / director the oomph and pace could have been a little better with a little editing, and perhaps an outside director. The storyline was very funny and well-constructed, with plenty of twists and a good punch line to finish.

A fun show with an original theme.

 

‘Mary Lambert R.I.P.’ is the latest offering from Hibernian playwright, actor, and general theatre enthusiast, Siobhán Wright.  Siobhán has written several memorable plays, and this poignant short play is one of her best.

The main scene is a hospital ward with bed, screen and bedside, medical monitor. Simple but effective set. Although the minor set changes were fast and efficient, were they really necessary?

          Mary (Gabrielle Campion) is still quite young, but finds herself in an emergency ward with her life draining away. As her life blood fades, Mary’s life flashes before her, and she is visited by the ghost of her mother (Charlotte Matilda Weber). The monitor flat-lines, and Mary is happy to see her old schoolmates, Carmel (Eimear Baylor) and Adrienne (Delia Ward) who drop in and reminisce over school memories, and recall Mary’s crush on Peter (Ultan Kiely).

       Mary remembers her wedding to Nicky (Fergal Benson), and of the joy of having a beautiful daughter, Rose (Alexandra Rush).

 The director of this sensitive piece is Denice Byrne, who is also a talented actor, having won an ITA ‘Best Actress in a Play’ award. The cast has worked hard, not only being word perfect, but each performer got right into their character, the result was an admirable and powerful show. The writer’s unusual and cleverly written piece was the evening’s highlight, as it moved from fun to sadness, deep love to pathos.

 

The idea of a short play season is to give writers, often local amateurs, a chance to see their writing brought to life. It also gives theatre buffs, stage hands or even the general public a chance to act. In one of the plays, an actor on stage for the first time started very well, and then the pace dropped off and the nerves compounded. Can I just say to this performer, on your entry you oozed confidence, you spoke clearly and projected your voice very well – you have what it takes, don’t lose heart. May I suggest that you look your fellow actors in the eye whilst speaking, and they will feed you confidence? I look forward to seeing you again.

Thanks to all of the directors, who rather than playing safe, give encouragement and a chance to newcomers.

A great selection of plays, with very different themes.

As always with this enthusiastic team, the tickets sell fast and full houses are common place.