Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Visit to Ireland

An aprehensive group of six actors and two stage managers gathered in gate area C at Malaga Airport for the first foreign tour of a play from the theatre (unless you count Gibraltar). We had been invited to perform 'A View From The Bridge' at the festival in Dundalk in Ireland. The flight went smoothly (just as well since one of us had been up until 4.00 clearing his desk) and we were met by what turned out to be as hospitable a group of people as it is possible to imagine. Safely transferred to Dundalk we had a look at the theatre. A very different design to the one we are used to. From an actors point of view it meant remembering to look up rather

having the audience at your feet. Gloria and John were knocked out by the facilities and have come back with a long shopping list. Next season is going to be a busy fundraising one for us!.
Then again the actors noted with unconcealed jealousy a Green Room with TV (of the stage) as big as all our dressing rooms put together and still three further dressing rooms each suitable for a football team.
The theatre seats 350 and we were told bookings were going well.
Suitably humbled we were taken to dinner
at the Riva restaurant before being sent to our lodgings. Forget stories about theatrical landladies and dodgy digs. We all spent a very comfortable four days. Even the weather was brilliant. The locals must have been very pleased we brought some Spanish sun with us. During the stay we had a brunch at Dundalk Golf Club which looked perfect with the sun showing off the work of the rain that preceded us. We almost forgot why we were there with that and a pre arranged visit to Carlingford

Local hospitality was centred around McGeoffs which serves a mean pint of Guiness and the pub opposite the theatre where we may have disgraced ourselves by beating the locals on the quiz night. Such hedonism was soon brought short when Matt Murphy appeared and reminded us why we were there. Immensely hard work by our John Pyne and their Tony was producing an excellent set but we needed to do some work. In these photos the set is nearly complete and the central cast members getting to know it.

Radio interviews done, shirts made suitably messy (nice clean car park but my shirt may never recover. Did longshoremen really get that mucky?) we had to face our audience. Some less eager than others
But I think the intensity of the play is better demonstrated - let's face it it couldn't be worse demonstrated - by this photo:

I think you can be proud of the audience reaction to the play (I should make it clear that my role was quite small and all the Kudos lies elsewhere). We were told that even the top Irish Theatre companies get one round of aupplause and are lucky if they get off the stage before the clapping stops but they called the cast back on. Here is a transcript of a radio critics report;

I was somewhat apprehensive about going to see the production of "A View From The Bridge" as one associates plays done in holiday resorts with stock amateur fare. Well this play presented by salva from Fuengirola made my doubts seem quite ludicrous.from the 1st words uttered to the wonderful climax it was completly riverting. The acting was sublime and the direction was just what we expect from Matt Murphy.the theme of jealously and obsession as a man loses his niece to an italian immigrant was fully realised. There was not a weak link, Bobbye Aaron and Brianna Mcpherson were terrific as they came to terms with Geoffrey Standsfield s mesmerising performance as Eddie Carbone. I have never seen a better played Marco and Radolpho -totally believable and Stephen Burns gave his usual assured performance as the story telling lawyer. Even the smallest roles were handled expertly. A lesson in what theatre should be all about! They will be welcomed back hopefully very soon and the many locals who visit the Costa del Sol will be looking out for "the Salon de Variete" harry lee

After the show we had supper in McGeoffs and all of us found the walk to the back of the pub a long one as the audience stopped us to chat. Harry may be right and we hope that both the Salon and Fuengirola will benefit from a connection with Dundalk.
Of course none of this would have been possible without the work of Matt Murphy who was a difficult taskmaster. At times not a kind word could be heard from the cast but we were all queuing up at the end to ask about his next piece at the Salon and presented him with a memento which we hope he will be putting in a proud place. Watching him from a corner are Stephen,Bobbye and Brianna

So it remained for us to get home for a reality check as we line up for auditions for the next time. See you there. But not in a Green Room:

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