Drama Club has chosen a dark Irish comedy as one of its Diamond
Jubilee productions. McDonagh's first play, premiered in Galway
in 1996, explores despondency and violence, tempering a vicious
darkness of the author's own design with the rural cheer and humour
of the classic Irish play.
born and bred in London, McDonagh is of Irish stock and his veins
clearly run thick with Galway blood. These contrasting cultures
meet head on in this play, set on Ireland's west coast, in Leenane
village, in Connemara.
disquieting story follows a sour, domineering mother, Mag, and her
daughter, Maureen. No longer young, Maureen has the chance of a
new life with a "stray man", Pato, who dubs her the Beauty
Queen of Leenane. Self-absorbed and isolated, Mag obstructs her
daughter's happiness, and manipulates events to her own ends. But
Maureen has inherited some vindictive gene, and the two are condemned
to spiteful rounds of constant sniping, with macabre outcome.
play was written in just over a week, during McDonagh's time as
a 25-year old writer in residence at London's National Theatre.
First of the "Leenane Trilogy", it won a string of accolades
on Broadway in 1998.
play's cast of just four, coupled with the single set, suit it well
to modest venues. Maureen takes the lion's part, and tonight gave
a reality performance, enhanced by her reality Galway accent. The
support crew also played their parts - the Kennedy photo, the steaming
kettle, the running tap, and even the interval's Guinness to beguile
the audience still further.
local drama club played out the intrigues and ironies of this provocative
piece of Irish theatre most convincingly. Well worth sampling, it
runs till Saturday in this final week of the 7th Abingdon Arts Festival.