John McCullagh March 20, 2010

In less than 3 hours time – at 1 pm in the Arts Centre, to be precise – the first fringe event, a one-act play by Newpoint, presented by (I believe) Donal O’Hanlon – will be staged in the Auditorium – admission


Tonight (Saturday) it is the turn of the acclaimed Rosemary Drama Group of Belfast who present the perennial favourite "Our Town". 



I have but the faintest mem

ory of Newpoint’s production of this classic way back in the 60s when former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon was producer. 

The action takes place in Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire on a ordinary day in 1901 (and subsequent dates) and tells the story of two families, the Webbs’ and the Gibbs’ – but many themes run through the tale.

As a amateur critic, I feel duty bound to comment both on the first night’s production and indeed, on the adjudicator.

Of the audience members I polled there was a fairly even split between those who admired Wexford’s efforts and those who panned the production. 

I felt all their good work was undone by poor delivery of lines.  For any actor, the voice is paramount but too many on stage were mumbling, sounding indistinct or incoherent and the effect was worsened by our location close to the back of the House.   It didn’t help, of course, that Friel’s dialogue includes passages in Gaelic, Greek and Latin and that the principal character, the hedge schoolmaster was perpetually drunk on stage!

Everyone complained of this, yet our adjudicator – who generally praised the team robustly – amazingly failed to mention it. 

To his credit, Garry Lombard (Gorey Little Theatre) spent more than two hours consulting with the cast in Courteney’s Restaurant (Arts Centre) afterwards – and if he continues in that vein, he will be totally spent by this night week!

Pat Courtenay put on a great spread for the ravenous visitors – of which, I must confess, we managed to partake some little time later.  Thank you very much, Pat and his staff.

I could be carrying even more excess weight in ten days time!

It’s after one in the morning now and I’m just home after the night’s entertainment.

I must record that tonight’s production was absolutely fabulous: so much so that I cannot find the smallest negative comment to make.

Any production to beat this must be out-of-this-world.

Might Silken Thomas match it tomorrow evening with their interpretation of Alan Bettett’s The History Boys?

Wait and see !

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