The Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Clarke Hall Borrisokane

By public demand, the Borrisokane Players are staging 2 extra performances of The Beauty Queen Of Leenane this Friday 18th and Saturday 19th in the Clarke Hall, Borrisokane at 8.30pm. And it is no wonder, because this production was truly wonderful. It more than lived up to expectations and thrilled the large audiences that attended. There were super performances from the four players, Phil Quigley, Mary Donnelly, Pat Fox and Dermot McDermott on the opening night and no doubt subsequent nights.

The production flowed at a lovely pace, and kept the audience captivated as the plot unfolded.

Acting, as stated, was super; all 4 players were totally believable in their parts. Pat Fox played Ray, the local half-wit who glided happily through the drama totally oblivious to the tragedy unfolding around him. Pat gave a confident and witty portrayal, and showed some lovely touches, and was very natural in his role.

Dermot McDermott gave a most assured and polished performance of Pato, who was also probably unaware of the effect and impact he was having on Maureen’s life and dreams. Dermot was especially impressive in his “letter” monologue at the start of Act 2, and all in all this was a very fine debut for Dermot with the Borrisokane Players.  Mary Donnelly likewise delivered a confident portrayal of Maureen, a complex character who most of the time came across as a frustrated spinster, but then in flashes showed us her darker other side, until the ultimate tragic ending. Mary depicted this very well and these occasional flashes of madness in the first act developed excellently in the second act where she showed us great skill in bringing across the menace and threat that was eventually to explode.

Finally Phil Quigley, making a welcome return to the Borrisokane stage, played Mag, Mary’s mother. Phil gave a superb performance showing us the despair and fear of being alone which in turn leads Mags to practically imprison Maureen as she attempts to hold her forever in Leenane; “you’ll be seventy at my wake….!”. Phil was excellent in all aspects of her role, her delivery, her movements, her facial expressions and especially when she was just being still. She showed us Mags the lonely old mother, but also Mags’ conniving and manipulative side as she plotted to keep Maureen at home in Leenane, and deprive her of the one chance of romance.

There were some magic and hilarious moments between all characters, lest one should think from this review that this is a serious or depressing drama throughout! The timing and body language and movement of all were immaculate, and this is due in no small way to director Tom Hayes. Tom produced at a lively pace but also was not afraid to slow down and show us great reflective moments of quiet. There were some lovely touches such as the straightening of the pictures on the wall, Mags talking to the door, and Ray tapping the letter on his leg as Mags looked on like a puppy drooling at a biscuit! Of course the players will no doubt claim these touches as their own!  All in all the Borrisokane Players were in very skilful hands with Tom Hayes at the helm.

All people behind the scenes played their parts, especially the set design and construction crew, and stage manager. The set was simple yet detailed with a very good authenticity with regard to props. A lovely touch was the fire in the range, the real porridge and complan, and the fact that the kettle actually boiled and the gas cooker lit! Great work throughout.

The first night ran more like a final night! It was very smooth, no major hitches, and was a great taste of things to come. Perhaps the pace and delivery in the 1st scene or 2 could have been just slightly slower, but on the other hand there was impact. Lighting was good, though a little refocusing of the lights would have killed the slight shadow across the back. The scenery outside the window could have benefitted from varying levels of light, as it seemed always to be a sunny 30 degrees outside. (Even for a bit of the night scene!) Lighting was magical in the final scene. Sound effects particularly on the radio and TV were excellently on cue, but the production might have been enhanced by some music during the blackouts, to serve as a link between scenes. However the choice of music used must also be complimented, it was very atmospheric and in one scene in particular it was a lovely touch to hear Maureen humming along to the song on the radio, as did Mags later.

All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable production; congratulations must be extended to Borrisokane Players and all concerned for making it a triumph. The Clarke Hall was cosy and comfortable, and Borrisokane is fortunate to have such a lovely venue at its disposal, and all should be encouraged to support it. You have another chance to do so next Friday and Saturday as the Beauty Queen takes to the stage again at 8.30pm. Don’t miss it this time!

Mags: Phil Quigley. Maureen: Mary Donnelly. Ray: Pat Fox. Pato: Dermot McDermott. Director: Tom Hayes, Asst. Director Eddie Lillis. MC:  Darragh McKenna. Stage Crew: Mike Slevin, John Hartnett, Macky Brennan, Paraic Brennan, Aine Brennan, Gay Hackett, Jamie Brennan. Set: Mike Slevin, Teresa Coen, Patrick Nevin, Francis Sullivan. Make Up: Maria Donnelly, Eithne Vaughan-Witts. Continuity: Cindy Ahearne. Lighting: Tony Brehon. Sound: Darren Moore. Stage Manager: Margaret Slevin. Props Margaret Slevin, Eithne Egan. PR: Kevin Carroll, Brendan Carroll. Costumes: Gerardine Wisdom. Front of House: Mary Hackett, Teresa Brennan, Julie Brennan, Bernie Houlihan, Brendan Carroll, Maria Donnelly, Eithne Vaughan Witts.

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