Eithne Bell for Best Actress?

There was high praise indeed, and rightly so, last evening from our adjudicator Walter Ewart for Newpoint’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane.  I believe he was greatly impressed with every aspect of this interpretation, from the stage crew to the set, to the lighting, sound script, props, costume, the directing and most especially the acting performance.

Eithne Bell came in for especial mention for a scintillating performance as the old mother.  It was a flawless and courageous portrayal of a scheming, selfish old woman (Declan, her husband confided to me that she wasn’t acting!) and I suspect she will win the Best Actress award.

I have been in general agreement all week with Walter Ewart, and again, when the only reservation he expressed was about a slight lack of menace and impending madness earlier on in the play.  Patricia McCoy (as the Beauty Queen) was her usual impressive self and played perfectly off the mother character.   The two men, Donal O’Hanlon and Donal Kearney also strongly played their respective roles.

For Ewart, the best moment of theatre was the emptying of the p**s-pot into the sink.  We loved it.  But for me, it was her fall, as a lifeless corpse, from the rocking chair to the floor.  Brilliant!  And very courageous!  As was her struggle on the floor, when she was again attacked by her mad daughter.

I had a few minor quibbles (Eithne’s very synthetic grey wig, torrential rain, but no wet on characters entering the house, reference to muddy boots but no mud, no background rain sound when TV/radio switched on, Kennedy portrait rocking perilously on wall at each entrance/exit) but I hope the team will prevail to go to the Ulster Finals.

I have not seen it yet but I suspect the main threat will come from Silken Thomas who tonight give us Jerusalem.  This is the performance I have been most eagerly anticipating.

Don’t miss it.

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