Belfast Telegraph

Picture this cast

By Grania McFadden

Anyone who is anyone in acting in Ulster turns up for a must-see McCafferty drama

Watching Prime Cut's production of Owen McCafferty's Scenes from the Big Picture is akin to checking off a list of who's who in Ulster acting.

Conall Morrison directs Maria Connolly, Marcella Riordan, Eleanor Methven, Niall Cusack, Paddy Scully, Gerard Jordan, Paddy Jenkins, Julia Dearden, Ivan Little, Seanin Brennan, Chris Corrigan, Packy Lee, Matthew McElhinney, Marc O'Shea and Joe Rea - to name just some of the 21-strong cast - in this snapshot of a day in the life of Belfast.

McCafferty is one of our most successful contemporary playwrights, collecting awards for almost every drama he writes. For too long, his work seemed to appear mainly on London stages. Now we've had two Irish premieres in the space of a couple of months.

Earlier this year, the Lyric staged his adaptation of Days of Wine and Roses. Now it's the turn of Prime Cut, which has seized the stage at the Waterfront Studio, to put on one of the biggest productions seen in Belfast for some years.

Meanwhile, the curtain has gone up on the last major drama at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. The doors at Ridgeway Street will clang shut in January, before work begins on a new theatre for the 21st century.

Dan Gordon, who first walked the Lyric stage back in 1982, goes behind the scenes to direct this landmark production. Based on Molière's Le Malade Imaginaire, the new version by David Johnston is transported to 17th century Belfast.

Taking a break from rehearsals, Dan said: "Directing this play has been fantastic fun. Having a great ensemble company is half the battle but the fact that Molière was such a showman is the other.

"In his time he incorporated action, illusion, stand-up comedy, sheep, song and dance and, of course, the audience," he said. "That was where he was coming from and that's where I'm trying to go, although this time, there'll be no sheep."

In recent years David Johnston has adapted many Spanish and French classics. He said: "Molière still strikes many chords today. He was a writer obsessed with the obsessions that weave themselves into the fabric of everyday lives. In The Hypochondriac there is a roll-call of obsession: with health, with money, with status, even with falling in love."

Falling in love is a distant goal when you're seven years old. But there are still plenty of things to obsess about. Bruiser Theatre Company will be reminding us all what it's like to be young and carefree in their forthcoming production of Dennis Potter's Blue Remembered Hills.

Set in 1943, the drama follows a group of seven-year-olds as they play during a summer afternoon - until a single event changes their lives forever. This funny and chilling play opens at the Old Museum Arts Centre on September 18.

Meanwhile, Big Telly Theatre Company is celebrating its 20th birthday with Bog People, which was inspired by the poetry of Seamus Heaney and created by a team of Northern Irish writers and theatre practitioners.

Written by Lucy Caldwell, Nicola McCartney and Francis Turnly, Bog People is a sequence of stories about love, violence, mystery and memory with music composed by Neil Martin and direction by Zoë Seaton.

Performed by an ensemble of six led by John Hewitt and Barbara Adair, the Bog People tour opens at the Riverside Theatre, Coleraine on September 20 before embarking on a grand tour of Ireland, incorporating the new Strule arts centre in Omagh, and the Lyric theatre.

Finally, if you're wandering round Belfast city-centre tomorrow lunchtime, wondering where to go, I'd recommend Jigsaw Theatre's play during the day, a double-bill of fare which will be served up at 1pm in the Black Box.

The show lasts for just 20 minutes - a highly civilised way to break up a day's shopping!

Belfast Telegraph


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