Of all the characters he has created, Albertine seems to have a particular hold on internationally celebrated playwright Michael Tremblay.
In Albertine in Five Times, translated by Linda Gaboriau, we see her at five different ages from the 1940s to 1980s and try to figure out if there was a point when she might have chosen a different fate.
Trying to keep her spirits up on her first night in a senior’s residence, Albertine at 70 summons four younger versions of herself – at age 30, 40, 50 and 60 as well as an ageless version of her late sister Madeleine to keep her company.
|Albertine at 70||Sheila Heneghan|
|Albertine at 60||Mary Flavin Colbert|
|Albertine at 50||Mary Curley|
|Albertine at 40||Valerie O’Leary|
|Albertine at 30||Grainne Barry|
|Stage Manager||Noel Hayes|
|Lighting||Billy Casey & Barry Donaldson|
|Hair & Make-Up||Pat Carroll|
|Backstage Crew||Patrick Feeney, Cillian Cotter, Paddy Joe Sheehan, Hugh Collins, Darragh Murphy, John Colbert, Adrian Finn|
|Production Team||Audrey Sheehan, Mary Walsh, Richie Walsh ,Gabriella Mastromatteo, Fiona McDonnell, Courtney Canning|
About The Group
Ballyduff Drama Group has been performing on the Three-Act Drama Festival Circuit for over thirty years. In that time, they have won Best Play, Best Producer, Best Presentation and Best Stage Management as well as all the main acting awards at the All Ireland Finals in Athlone. Their repertoire is extensive and has included works across the whole spectrum of dramatic endeavour. Productions like the second-placed ‘Of Mice and Men’ (2010) and ‘Caught in the Net’ (2008) , All-Ireland winning ‘On Raftery’s Hill’ (2004) and most recently coming third with ‘Takin Over the Asylum’ (2015) represent just some in its array of achievements. Ballyduff Drama Group has toured extensively over the last decade – with performances in Wales and Scotland as well as ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ and ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ in Singapore, and a visit to Berlin with ‘Under Bare Ben Bulben’ with a group young people promoted the ethos that is Ballyduff Drama Group – one of inclusion, determination, cooperation and pride.
Summary of Adjudicator’s Comments
The adjudicator Anna Walker opened her comments by congratulating Ballyduff for reaching Athlone, and called them a group, “at the top of their game,”.
Ms Walker talked about the fine weather in Athlone that day, and her going for a walk, and heading into Ss Peter’s and Paul’s Church. She saw a statue of Our Lady in the church, and saw on the statue, a benign smile and halo around her head.
“I said that’s it, that is the antithesis of the character we are going to see today,” she said. “Albertine is a troubled woman, and the play was written by Michel Tremblay, and is directed by Ger Canning.”
She told the audience that Tremblay is a French novelist and playwright who was born in 1942, and who trained as a graphic artist. His work, like many authors is mainly autobiographical, and Albertine is based on one of the author’s aunts.
“He put her in small parts in plays and then he decided that she deserved a play of her own which revolved around her turbulent life, and this is a memory play with a difference,” said Ms. Walker. “Here the memories clash violently off each other, and each Albertine battles her future self and past self. There is rage, disappointment, heartache and horror as her life unfolds. The writer shows us an arc of a woman’s life from the 1940s to the 1980s.”
The adjudicator said that Adeline is an ordinary girl, with a huge burning rage within her, and the exploration of her life’s memory can enlighten, confuse and totally change our views of past, present and future.
“Isn’t it fantastic to see a new play on the circuit, and wonderful to see a director looking for new work, and challenging herself,” said Ms Walker.
The adjudicator said that it is important to get the casting of voices right as well as the characters, and the director achieved that with her six fine actresses who served the play so well.
“I felt that the tensions between the sisters was well realised, and each woman is markedly different, and it’s a leap of faith to see it as one woman’s story at all those different stages,” said Ms. Walker. “In this production the connections between the actresses on stage helped us to draw the strands of one woman’s life together.”
She said the stage space was used well, and the language was well handled, and that the power of the play is located in the rage.
“There is a burning rage throughout this play, and I would like to have seen more of the rage and the rawness released. The director took a through line, and gave us an incredibly dignified response to the play,” said adjudicator. “The opinions of all the Albertines at different ages was realised. I loved the accents, and the last image of the play was so stunning, and I felt that it did draw the play together.”
She was said it was wonderful to see the six actresses on stage, and it was a wonderful night’s entertainment in the Dean Crowe Theatre.
“What a set!” said Ms. Walker. “It was an imaginative response to the play, with the containment, and the different levels worked so well. There were very high production values, and the lighting was very well done. Each actress wore a version of red or orange in the play, and it helped draw them together.”
She gave some detailed comments about each of the five actresses who played Albertine, and about the actress who played Madeline.
“Sheila Heneghan who plays Albertine at 70 is so comfortable on stage, and had gentle comedy lines, and she was excellent as she listens to all the Albertines telling her what she knew,” said the adjudicator. “Her relationship with Madeline was warm and beautiful and this actress was warm and beautiful, and had a most natural engaging quality, and she totally drew me in.”
The actress who played Albertine at sixty was deemed by the adjudicator to have captured the bitter and cynical nature of the character.
“She had great organic physicality, and this character was lost and lonely, so well done to Mary Flavin Colbert,” said the adjudicator.
She said the actress who played Albertine at fifty was played by Mary Curley, who realised the stubborn streak to the character.
“She had optimism and confidence, but I would like if you highlighted the horror more when talking about your son, but well done to Mary,” said Ms Walker.
Speaking about the actress who played the 40 years old Albertine, Ms Walker said she had an excellent vocal range.
“She was almost impossible to deal with, and she captured that, and brought vital vicious energy on stage, and had very good stage presence,” said the adjudicator. “This was such a strong quality, and you could feel her pain, her anger, and she energised this play so much.”
She said that the actress who played Albertine at thirty had a lovely sensitivity in the opening, and she praised the actress, Grainne Barry.
Ms. Walker said that Rachel O’Connell played the ageless Madeline, and she was the listening heart of the play.
“She provides a gentle counterpoint and had a warm quality in her presence and her delivery, and has a most attractive stage presence,” said the adjudicator.