Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Be Bowled over by busy, busy season

Samantha Barks stars as Sally Bowles in Cabaret at the Grand Opera House

It looks like a busy summer season in Northern Ireland's theatres and thank goodness for it, since the weather seems set to disappoint us all again.

A quick journey around our theatres shows that there's a broad range of entertainment on offer, from musicals to dramas, to plays aimed at children and others strictly for the grown-ups.

Off to Armagh first, where Tinderbox Theare Company's new production, This Other City, plays at the Marketplace Theatre tonight.

Armagh writer Daragh Carville's drama centres around Patrick and Gemma, who are a couple at ease in the new Northern Ireland.

He's busy building a better Belfast, while she manages a string of beauty salons. But their comfortable world is turned upside down when Maria, a young woman from Moldova, appears on the scene.

Tomorrow evening, fans of Cecelia Ahern will have a chance to see her first stage play at Strule Arts Centre in Omagh. Mrs Whippy, aka Emelda O’Grady, is a busy woman with five sons, a failed marriage and a new job. But the soothing sounds of a Mr Whippy ice cream van herald a new friendship for her in this heart-warming comedy.

There are plenty of laughs, too, in Wesley Burrows' comedy Affluence, at the Playhouse in Derry until tomorrow.

Set on a small island off the Co Down coast, Affluence depicts a world where Catholics and Protestants live side by side in happy isolation. But imagine the horror when the islanders learn that the long-awaited flush lavatories will have to share the same sewage pipes..!

You'd imagine there'd be plenty of horror depicted in a play about the Maze/Long Kesh (right). In truth, Martin Lynch has written an affectionate musical about our most infamous prison, packed with music and memories about life behind the wire. Green Shoots Productions' Chronicles of Long Kesh is on a comeback tour and plays Braid Arts Centre in Ballymena next Wednesday.

Entertainment is child's play at the Old Museum Arts Centre in Belfast where Compagnio Rodissio is performing the Story of a Family as part of Belfast Children's Festival.

This poignant tale of a mum, dad and little girl who invite us into their home examines how important it is to remember to pay attention to those around us.

The show was inspired by children in schools in Parma who worked with the company on what family meant to them.

There won't be any children at the audience for Cabaret at the Grand Opera House next week — too adult an affair altogether!

Samantha Barks, the runner-up from the BBC series I'd Do Anything, tries her luck as Sally Bowles, alongside Wayne Sleep, who reprises his role as the notorious Emcee.

Divine decadence is guaranteed, darling, when the Cabaret comes to town on Monday.

grania.mcfadden@ntlworld.com

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