Set on Inishmaan in 1934
‘The Cripple Of Inishmaan’ is a strange comic tale in the great tradition of Irish storytelling. As word arrives on Inishmaan that the Hollywood director Robert Flaherty is coming to the neighbouring island of Inishmore to film ‘Man of Aran’, the one person who wants to be in the film more than anybody is young cripple Billy, if only to break away from the bitter tedium of his daily life.
|Johnny Pateen Mike||Martin O’Donohue|
|Babby Bobby||Neil Haran|
|Stage Managers||Thomas Kearney|
|Make Up||Rona Lyons|
|Stage Crew||Willie Lahiffe|
About The Group
Qualified for the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival three times; placed 3rd in 2012 with the subject was ‘Roses’ by Frank D. Gilroy, directed by John Clancy. Winners of the One-Act Confined All Ireland finals’ 2012 and 1993. Other highlights include: Full-Length Confined All Ireland Winners 2008 with our production of ‘The Beauty Queen of Leenane’ by Martin McDonagh.
Summary of Adjudicator’s Comments
In his introductory remarks, adjudicator Geoff O’Keeffe noted that, at the age of 27, Martin McDonagh became the first playwright since William Shakespeare to have four plays running in London in the one season. The London-born playwright of Irish parents has received worldwide accolades and is regarded as “one of the most important writers of his generation”. Some of his work “lampoons and ridicules notions of Irishness” and he can divide opinion, with Mr O’Keeffe pointing out that critic Charles Spencer described ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ as “a thoroughly nasty piece of work”.
The characters in the play are “eccentric, hilarious and savage”. They are afflicted by “a desperation bred by boredom” and while there is plenty of dark humour, there is “a pervading sadness” in the play. Anybody directing this work “must avoid caricatures” and place Billy at the “emotional core” of the play. The characterisations need to be “nuanced and layered”.
Examining the presentation in this production, the adjudicator said the sound of the seagulls at the opening “brought us into a new world and transported us to the Aran Islands”. The setting was described as “beautifully conceived and rendered”. No one person was credited with set design, but Mr O’Keeffe said all those responsible deserve congratulations.
The lighting (overseen by Ger Lahiffe, John Clancy and Eddie McCourt) “complemented the setting”, with day and night effectively established during the play. “This was excellent work, well done to all concerned,” said the adjudicator. The costumes were “appropriate to the characters” and, overall, the presentation was “very considered”.
The directors (John Clancy and Maura Clancy) were working with a “team of actors who responded so well” to this play and this production found the necessary “pathos and comedy”. There was a combination of “visual storytelling” and effective uses of different voices. The adjudicator said there were “some beautiful touches” and he was full of praise for the transitions between scenes, describing them as “fluid and effortless”. According to the adjudicator, this was “a seamless piece of storytelling”.
The entrance of Johnny Pateen Mike was praised as was the reaction of Eileen to his “pieces of news”. The stage violence was “so well handled”, said the adjudicator, adding that he “felt the slaps” from his vantage point. “The cut and thrust between the actors was beautiful to watch,” he remarked. The scene where Kate and Eileen found out that Billy had gone to American was “a beautiful moment of theatre” as they put their backs to the audience, sat down and “became like children”.
Highlighting a couple of minor quibbles, the adjudicator felt Billy’s ‘screen test’ could have been “paced up slightly” and he felt the scene where Billy is preparing to kill himself (before being saved by Helen) “needed more time” in order to enhance its impact. Overall, though, there was “so much creativity” and “so many moments that were beautifully explored”.
Turning to the acting performances, Eileen Lahiffe, who played Kate, “the worrier who talked to the stone” brought a “lovely gentleness and warmth” to the role in “a beautiful performance”. Mary Kelly (Eileen) delivered “a strong characterisation” that was “imbued with great energy”; it was “admirable work”.
Martin O’Donoghue (Johnny Pateen Mike, “the gossip, the twitter of his time”) delivered a “committed performance” that was “enjoyable to watch”. James Raleigh played Billy, who wanted to be known as just Billy, not “cripple Billy”. This character was longing for escape and to live life on his own terms. This actor “did well to find the physicality” in the role; it was a “sympathetic” and “engaging” characterisation.
Colm Linnane played Bartley, who loved his “sweeties” and had “a lot to put up with Helen for a sister”. This actor gave a “warm characterisation”, delivering his comic lines so well in a piece of work that that the adjudicator “greatly admired”.
Maura Clancy played Helen and the adjudicator was quick to give kudos to the actress for “staying in the moment” when she fell on stage. Noting that the actress was playing outside her age range, Mr O’Keeffe said it was “quite extraordinary” how she made the audience believe she was a teenager. The actress “caught the youthfulness” of the character and was “beautifully committed” in bringing “great insight” to the role.
Neil Haran (Babbybobby, “quick with his temper and his fists”) delivered “committed work”, while Mike Curran (as the Doctor) had “a good sense of self in this small role”. The adjudicator did question the English accent of the Doctor but felt the character was established well.
Nicola Sheehan played Mammy, who had a sharp tongue and was “some woman for the drink”. She was described as “suitably grotesque” in this role. The adjudicator said the carrying in of Mammy was a “genius” moment, and the way Helen carried her out was even more impressive.
Overall, the creative team responded so well to the needs of the play and under “imaginative” direction, this was a “thoroughly engaging” piece of work. In summary, the adjudicator said the Corofin Dramatic Society did indeed bring a “big piece and news” and it was “very well told”.