Nancy Harris Interview

March 12, 2011

Nancy Harris has just had her first full length play staged. And at the National Theatre no less. Three interlinked segments that look at human relationships in modern Ireland it explores the many ways we use the newer modes of communication to invade and evade one another. She talks here to Caomhan Keane about her work ethic, her influences and the importance of the rewrite.

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Billy Roache Interview

March 12, 2011

Prize-fighter Dean takes on all comers on a nightly basis.  That is until a challenge from a professional fighter upsets the apple-cart. Inhabiting a forgotten world that is nonetheless brimming with all too-familiar passions and human foibles, Lay Me Down softly is another slice of vintage Billy Roche following on from his acclaimed Wexford Trilogy and other much-loved tales of small-town Ireland.

Set in rural Ireland in the year 1962 Lay Me Down Softly takes us into the burlesque world of Delaney’s Travelling Road show and its Boxing Booth. Meet Theo, the charismatic, violent ringmaster and his Carmen-like lover Lily. Rub shoulders with Peadar, Theo’s old tried and not-so-trusted sidekick, and Dean the vain and bragging prize-fighter, and the gentle, handsome, limping Junior. Say hello to Emer, the wounded waif of a girl who has come in search of her long lost, run-away father.

Here the playwright talks to Caomhan Keane about why the show has been revived just two years after its previous incarnation at the Peacock ; how it felt to direct and not just write his work and why even if you feel you screwed up an audition with him, it might not be the end of the world.

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The Focus Theatre kicked off its 2011 season last week with Fire & Ice’s Love in Dublin, two independent monologues that looked at the bleaker side of romance through the eyes of two differing characters. Both working class, both scarred by their beloved’s actions and both refusing to see what was blatantly in front of them, they differed in age and in sex but suffered the same, from a need to maintain or attain the status quo.

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There is a serious lack of bite in Druid’s revival of their 2008 smash The Cripple of Inishmaan. While there is a sense of disconnection from the still solid cast(two months into their six month tour)  the bigger problem lies in how crudely McDonagh’s text has aged. What may have been daring and innovative in 1996  seems cheap and twee now while the coarseness of the writers style repels affection for the characters and their plight. Using the past to mock the present McDonagh takes pot shots at our desperate need for international validation and our domestic iniquity but the joke isn’t funny any more. It’s not that we can’t laugh at ourselves. We just need a greater understanding. The everyday cruelty of the characters should produce a more potent sting now we have gone and disgraced ourselves again but rather than striking our nerves this production goes for our giddy guts, drowning the Gaiety in hollow hilarity.
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