Lislea: View from a Bridge

The Carrick Players of Tyrone, with their performance of ‘Eclipsed’ [life in the laundry for 1960’s unfortunate girls] won the recent Lislea Drama Festival and qualified for the All-Ireland Confined Finals to be held in two weeks time in Warrenpoint.  We will wait to see their achievement there before reviewing it.  Enough now to say that it must be very good indeed to have bettered the home team’s performance of Arthur Millar’s ‘A View From The Bridge’.  Mind you, only one point separated these two teams!


As a ‘lap of honour’ and to raise very necessary funds for the Hospice, Lislea enacted two performances, last Friday and Saturday evenings.  First let me complement the community for their wonderful support.  Unlike Newry, all ages turned out in force.  As usual Lislea reserved the first four rows for school-going children [they were evening performances so no teachers were there to enforce discipline].  Their self-control and level of interest were a joy to behold.  The sophistication of the audience for this quite complex drama was evident in the reception.  All who spoke from the stage did so with confidence and competence without the aid of a microphone.  As visitors we were well received.  But this is South Armagh.  I’d expect nothing less.


I’ve seen this Miller favourite many times, both professionally and on the amateur stage.  Lislea’s performance could match any.  A few players stood out.  Pius Tierney’s masterful performance must have lifted every other member of cast.  Liam Hannaway as Eddie was exceptional too.  I note quite a number of players of this name.  It’s true that often a few families form the backbone of local amateur dramatic groups.  14 people are named in the lead parts and at least that number again take the stage in support roles.  Then double your answer to include the back-stage players.  And remember that Lislea isn’t even a village, but a small, widely-disperse community.  My admiration knows no bounds.


The play is presented through the eyes of Alfieri [Pius] a local lawyer.  His view of life in Red Hook from Brooklyn Bridge [view from the bridge] as it affects these people, is told in a series of flashbacks.  Eddie Carbone, a longshoreman of Italian extraction, works on the docks.  He agrees to shelter his wife’s cousins Marco and Rudulpho, illegal immigrants from Sicily.  Troubles begin when his wife’s niece Catherine is attracted to the younger brother, Rudulpho.  Eddie’s confused jealousy culminates in an unforgivable crime against his family and the Sicilian community.  The play examines and exposes human weaknesses but also reveals the deep-lying emotions that exist within every human being.


I’d like to congratulate and thank Joe Murphy and every one of his magnificent team for a wonderful performance.  There wasn’t even a hint of jealousy that this fine production had failed to make it through their own festival.  But these people are the cream of South Armagh.  Why should I be surprised about that?!   

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