John McCullagh March 27, 2007
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Our Adjudicator Scott Marshall was most fulsome in his praise of the Bart Players’ rendition of Stephen King’s Misery which was staged last evening in Newry Town Hall.

Here is an outline of the plot: ‘Paul Sheldon, novelist, retires to the snow-covered hills of Colorado to write another book about his heroine Misery Chastain. He crashes his car and wakes up in a dilapidated farmhouse occupied by the schizophrenic Annie, his ‘Number One Fan”.
 


I’m afraid I disagreed with him in many aspects of his adjudication.

First, however, the areas where we agreed.

Because there is a cast of just two, one of whom is confined to a wheel-chair, there is very little movement and action, and that mainly on the part of the actress. Much then, rests on the set, the mood music and the scene changes for dramatic interpretation.

Scott Marshall particularly liked the broken lines which defined the upper reaches of the set and I agreed. It presaged much that was ‘broken’ in relationships and characterisations that were to follow! Parts of the main set were cluttered and sometimes inappropriately dated (e.g. the cane chair) and the several different rooms, garden, patio areas were ill-defined and not fully or appropriately used throughout.

The music was appropriately chosen most of the time, but unfortunately ill-timed from scene to scene. There were a few embarrassing incidents of accidental breakage at scene changes that distracted.

Adjudicator Scott Marshall ascribed originality of interpretation where, to my mind,  the cast was merely mimicking the film version; he expressed certainty that the ‘hobbling’ of the writer hero would come as a great surprise, where the audience, to a man and woman, would have anticipated exactly this from their own viewing of the film. He stated that the highlight of the performances for him was the self-flagellation of the heroine – when I believed her occasional self-administered slaps to the face were tame beyond belief!

The performance rests entirely on the two main characters and I’m sorry to say they were less than believable. The female lead was not nearly menacing enough and seemed to address all her lines to someone in the back row of the balcony. I did not believe in her schizophrenia. Paul’s terror of his insane tormentor did not come across either.

Nor could I believe in any developing relationship – of whatever nature – between Paul and Annie. The pacing was poor; the screams came too late after the axe fell (literally); much of the real drama enfolded on a darkened stage. I could go on …………..
 

But this adjudicator will give several awards to this company, if his words mean anything. 

 


Tonight it’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Ballymoney. Two weeks ago Kilrush won the Lislea Festival with their interpretation of this Martin McDonagh play. It will be interesting for those in the audience who viewed the former performance, to compare and contrast.

 


DO NOT FORGET Newpoint’s Macbeth tomorrow night!!

 

 

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