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Town Hall, Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland. 087 1224744

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John B Keane

January 2006


Liam Curley


Gar Public:  David Hardiman

Gar Private: Eoin Croffy

Madge:  Niamh Cavangh

SB O’ Donnell:  Mike O’Reilly

Cannon Mick O’ Byrne:  Nigel Sammon

Kate Doogan: Heather Reynolds

Senator Doogan: Tom Costelloe

Master Boyle: Alfie Barrett

Con Sweeney:  Joe Bergin

Lizzy Sweeny:  Eveanna Ryan

Ben Burton:  Brian Derrane

Ned:  Mike Kelly

Tom:  Cathal Cregg

Joe:  Frank Delaney

Stage Crew

Manager: Pat McGovern

Lighting: Brendan Tully.

This is a review of the show from www.ballinasloe.com

Ballinasloe theatergoers were not in anyway disappointed with the Relays third production in over 38 years of Brian Friel’s classic Three Act “Philadelphia Here I Come” – in the Town Hall Theatre – last Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Playing to strong, approving audiences on each of the three evenings; the Liam Curley produced piece remained true to the strengths of the Relays company but also managed to interpret the play’s nuanced sub themes with stunning authenticity and magnificent subtlety.

In it’s crudest manifestation the play is essentially a rant against the forced emigration of the 50 s and 60s and the wrenching heartbreak and social dysfunction that it gave rise to. Little wonder then that the cast’s masterful interpretation of the script – reasonated more strongly with the sub themes of father – son , or indeed inter generational non – communication, unrequited love being staunched for status and security, the individual drowning in a community of inquisitiveness and of course the continual disconnect of the past being another country and memories playing tricks on recollections.

It was a poignant production for the Cast & Crew as the programme declared – it was the first play of the Relays, since the passing of it’s powerhouse of a founder – Very Rev. Fr. Kevin Ryle, in October of last year. His love of Athletics, interest in theatre and connections with the Kerry legend John B. Keane – gave rise to the fundraising project of Sive in 1959. His legacy and that of the late Dermot Connolly and Michael Ryan – is 47 years of rich theatre and plays from a vast collection of Irish and International writers and an appreciative audience in the locality.

The 14 strong cast – was just that – very, very strong – there were no gap fillers or passengers on this particular tour de force and the poignant, funny and pacey tempo cantered into – in the first few scenes was kept up with maximum discipline throughout. Niamh Cavanaghs “Madge” as the housekeeper is the lynchpin role for most the domestic scenes and she brought steel and sympathy to the part in equal measure. Mike O’ Reilly’s “SB O’Donnell” was a strong portrayal of the resolute Sphinx like Shopkeeper cum Councillor, maximizing all the humour of Friel’s lines while ultimately luring the audience from mocking; into appreciating the human bind he was in.

The key of course to this play is Gar Public – played with great panache, flamboyance and restraint by David Hardiman, coupled with the two hand reel that is the alter ego – Gar Private potrayed by Eoin Croffy. Wit, Versatility, Timing and crucially pathos never deserted this talented presence who managed to halter the humour and allow the uncomfortable tale to be fully explored. Very strong supporting roles were delivered by Relays regular Heather Reynolds as “Kate Doogan” – the former suitor and her father “Senator Doogan” Tom Costelloe, fresh from his previous successes with the Moore and Clonfad Dramatic Society. His colleague on the boards – Alfie Barrett gave us a curmudgeonly mawkish and tragic “Master Boyle” . The Yanks scene was vividly brought to life by the strong stage presence of Eveanna Ryan – who played “Lizzy Sweeney” – SB’s deceased wife’s sister and was appreciably assisted by Joe Bergin as “Con” her husband and making a welcome comeback to the Town Hall Theatre – Brian Derrane as the driver and sugar daddy – “Ben Burton”.

Marking a number of firsts for the Society on opening night was Nigel Sammon – The Wiz in BMS ‘s production last Spring– who gave a very stereotypical delivery of the crusty Cannon Mick O’ Byrne.

The Boys – delivering most of the guffaws of the evening were led by Mike Kelly in rambustuous form as “Ned “ ( a role he played with similar enthusiasm 20 years ago) with another two new comers as lieutenants. Cathal Cregg as the fawning Tom and Fr. Frank Delaney’s gauche interpretation of the Mammy’s Boy “Joe”, who stole all gales of laughter – both warranted and un . Incidentally a pert played by Director Liam Curley in the 1968 production – which was directed by Dermot Connolly and reached the all Ireland Finals.

Set Design was authentic and homely, the lighting by Brendan and Hugh Tully was excellent and added greatly to the exploitation of times present and past.

All in all – a wonderful three night run by an exceptionally tightly nuanced cast and crew – deserving of praise for bringing alive drama for over 37 years in the locality.

Stage Manager – Pat Mc Govern, Assisted by Geoffrey Casey, Sound Effects - Catherine Mc Cormack, Props – Mary Fahy, Declan Finn and Patrick Byrne, MakeUp – Fiona Leary, Costumes Mary O’ Connell, Set Construction – P. Mc Govern, D. Croffy, D. Hardiman, D. Colohan. Front of house – Mary Reynolds, Mary Donaghue, Frances Leahy, Maura Hughes, Pat Groarke, Cathal Clarke and Jactina Riddle. Stage Manager

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