Belfast Telegraph

Best of theatre

By Grania McFadden

Everywhere you look, there’s a show opening. We’re enjoying a glut of fine theatre at the moment, with curtains rising on stages all over Northern Ireland – on new plays, classics, revivals, and just about everything in between.

At the Grand Opera House, Brenda Blethyn and Niall Buggy continue to cross swords in Haunted, where marital strife is the name of the game, until tomorrow night.

Round the corner at the Elmwood Hall, the Lyric Theatre’s production of Owen McCafferty’s new play, The Absence of Women, continues to do great business.

Rachel O’Riordan directs this gruff and tender story about two labourers from Belfast, both at the scrag end of life, who look back at where it all went wrong. Featuring a stand-out performance from Karl Johnson, it’s a play which will speak to many in the auditorium.

George Best was once asked where it all went wrong. He was — or so the story goes — lying with a Miss World on a bed covered in £20 notes at the time. Of course, Best faced his own challenges later on — but he’ll be remembered for his skill on the football pitch: that little shimmy, the swivel of the hips..

Maiden Voyage Dance Company has captured all of Best’s balletic skills in its new dance piece, Best, which is on stage in Tower Street Theatre in Belfast until tomorrow night, before setting out on a short tour.

This week also saw the opening of Bruiser Theatre Company’s new production, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, one of Brecht’s most challenging plays. It’s an allegory of Hitler’s rise to power — the Fuhrer is portrayed as a charismatic Chicago gangster, Arturo Ui. The play is currently on tour, and visits Downpatrick on February 27.

On to another revival – this time with a local bent. Centre Stage has long been known for its work reviving Irish classics.

This week, the company performed That Woman at Rathard, Sam Hanna Bell’s adaptation from his novel December Bride, at Belvoir Players Studio in Belfast.

Centre Stage will be touring until the middle of March, so check out your local arts centre for details.

Finally, the highly anticipated new play from Dave Duggan, Still The Blackbird Sings — Incidents at Ebrington Barracks, opens in the Playhouse in Derry next Thursday.

The drama explores events in the life of poet-soldier Francis Ledwidge, an Irish nationalist who joined the British Army in the First World War.

The play will also be performed at Ebrington Barracks on March 13 and 14.

grania.mcfadden@ntlworld.com

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