- January 8, 2018
The great canon of Irish drama seems to be without end, from Oscar Wild and George Bernard Shaw to the present day where plays like Stones In Their Pockets takes the West End and Broadway by storm and Jen Butterworth’s The Ferryman becomes the fastest selling ticket ever for London’s Royal Court theatre. There is little doubt that Irish life offers a fascinating view not only of a nation but of the human psyche. Now New Venture Theatre is embracing yet another acclaimed Irish writer.
Sebastian Barry is a playwright, novelist and poet and is considered one of Ireland’s finest. His literary career began in poetry before he began writing plays and novels. He has twice been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his novels A Long Long Way (2005) and The Secret Scripture (2008), the latter of which won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His 2011 novel On Canaan’s Side was longlisted for the Booker. In January 2017, Barry was awarded the Costa Book of the Year prize for Days Without End, hence becoming the first novelist to win the prestigious prize twice.
Mark Wilson has directed a number of plays at NVT including The Crucible, A View From the Bridge and Macbeth. He is also a writer, his play You winning the Brighton Festival Award For Theatre and the Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award in 2015. The play was published by Samuel French earlier this year.
I’ve come to see the central figure of Mai as like a modern-day Lear
“Sligo has been a play I’ve wanted to direct for some time now for the richness of its characters and the lyricism of their language. I’ve come to see the central figure of Mai as like a modern-day Lear, raging ‘against the dying of the light’. So it would be worth it just for her story and the way she tells it. However, so strong is the writing that each of the characters becomes the teller of their own story in a way that will lead the audience to be touched by all of the lives they see unfold before them. By staging the production in ‘the round’ it is our intention to enhance that sense of intimacy for the audience.
“From her room in a Dublin cancer ward, Mai looks back across her tempestuous life – her disastrous marriage, the loss of her child, the alcoholism and the hoped-for Ireland that lost its way in all the politics of division. She does so, however, without the least self-pity but rather with a savage quick humour, sparing no-one but the idolised Dada and the motherly Maria, both long-dead, whom she conjures from within her morphine-troubled mind.
“The setting of a cancer ward with its sole occupant facing her final days might suggest an evening of bleakness and depression; far from it. What has already become clear over the course of our first rehearsals is the play’s rich and under-stated humour. Its emotional range is as wide and as deep as ‘the dark waters of the Irish story’. Its power is at once both gentle and compelling.”
New Venture Theatre
Our Lady of Sligo
6 – 24 February 2018.
Evening performances: 7.45pm. Matinee: Sunday 18 February at 2.30pm
www.ticketsource.co.uk/newventuretheatre Box Office 01273 746118