Out and About with Maria Nolan at the Beauty Queen of Leenane:
The Beauty Queen of Leenane currently on stage at the Presentation Art Centre is in my opinion Enniscorthy Drama`s best Production yet. And having witnessed all 14 Productions since the inception of the Group in 2013 I feel qualified to make the statement.
Critiquing the Martin McDonagh masterpiece I was under pains to find fault with the brilliantly directed, superbly acted and expertly stage managed performance. Director and Set Designer Tom Reddy had indeed excelled himself with this one.
The sombre tale is a common one of an Ireland of a time when ageing mothers and fathers lived in utter terror and fear of being left alone or put in a home when their offspring had no other option but to emigrate to England or America.
Mag an ageing Galway mother played exceptionally by Michelle Whelan, resorts to cruelty and deceit to keep her last remaining child Maureen played by the brilliant AnneMarie Whelan, at home to look after her in her old age, depriving her of a life of normality and happiness with the kind and gentle Pato wonderfully portrayed by one of Enniscorthy`s finest actors Fintan Kelly.
The rapport between the two leading ladies is incredible, they are comfortable and at ease with each other on stage, their body language and facial expressions adding hugely to the comic element of the play, their timing and pace totally in sinz with each other and the jealousy, hatred and violence between them totally believable.
Their vile and manipulation completely contrasts with the gentleness and honesty of Pato beautifully understated by Fintan Kelly. Although, not a lead role nor a usual one for Fintan, to my mind he brings something special to this part and his letter scene just at the beginning of the second half is one of the best in the play, giving an insight to his gentle nature and endearing his character to the audience.
The chemistry between himself and Maureen is expertly done appearing natural and poignant.
The chemistry between Mag and Pato`s brother Ray played by the exuberant Brendan Robinson provides most of the comedy of the play and the interaction between the two actors coming across uncontrived and with ease.
All four actors give tremendous performances – this is quality acting by professionals and I cannot speak highly enough of the overall production – it is simply excellent. The set is perfect and the special effects, like the sound of the rain on the window, the very natural looking flames from the very believable looking Aga, the running water from the sink tap and the terrifying sounds of oil sizzling on the cooker are fantastic additions, as is the lighting and the errie Hitchcock music between acts and all are a credit to Director Tom Reddy who has done a most marvellous job and has indeed created pure magic at the Presentation.
The set changes are minimal and effortlessly executed by the quick moving back stage crew under Stage Manager Fiona Condrenand indeed front of house – Chairman Liam Doyle and Treasurer Tom Boland looking resplendent in Tuxes working with the efficient Presentation crew under Manager Lisa Byrne, all making for a most splendid and enjoyable experience at the Beauty Queen of Leenane.
Finally, could I just wish all at Enniscorthy Drama the very best of luck on the Circuit and I have no doubt that they will do themselves and their town proud.