It’s not all about drinking in Ireland, is it? On Sunday night, our couchsurfing hostess, Noelle Mekitarian, was off to a rehearsal for The Cripple of Inishmaan, and I invited myself along to watch the Phoenix Players do a run-through of the second act of this modern Irish play. No one seemed to mind that I was there, and I was quiet as a church mouse as everyone set about their business. Thanks for the tea and scones!
The Cripple of Inishmaan was written in 1997 by Irish expat Martin McDonagh (who’s in Hollywood right now, directing Seven Psycopaths), the play is set in 1934 in Inishmaan, one of the three islands that make up the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. Wikipedia tells me that Inishmaan has a population of 160, so perhaps it is not the most lively of places. Not much happening there in the ’30s either, you’d guess. The play opens with the biggest event to happen since forever – the filming of Robert Flaherty’s Hollywood documentary Man From Aran on the neighboring island of Inishmore. Wanting to escape the boredom of home, “Cripple” Billy Claven approaches the film’s set, and much to his surprise, gets a part in the film and is whisked off to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune. While Billy’s gone, those who stay behind go on about their weird and dreary lives, and if the second act is any indication, this comedy plays up the dark side of life, exposing the insecurities, foibles and idiosyncrasies that flourish in a smalltown, anywhere, where everyone knows your name and what you had for dinner last night. It’s a terribly funny play, and the Phoenix Players do it great justice, under the direction of Peter Davey.
Rehearsals continue for another week and a half with the technical rehearsal on February 5. It opens on February 11 and 12, 8 p.m., at Saint Brigid’s Hall in Tubbercurry, followed by two shows at The Factory in Sligo on February 22 and 23. Seasoned veterans and winners at western Ireland drama festivals, I wish them well, and hope they make it once again to the All Ireland competition, and perhaps win it all this year.