By Peter O’Connell
KILDYSART Drama Group will present their production of Jimmy Keary’s The Maiden Aunt in the local community centre this Saturday and Sunday.
This is the third time that the Kildysart players have staged a Jimmy Keary play. They produced the world premiere of Too Close to Home in 2007 and Fortunes and Misfortunes in 2010.
Last year the group enjoyed enormous success with their production of A Wake in the West which, like this years production, was directed by Colin McMahon.
“Last year was our biggest success to date. I’d say we turned away hundreds of people. We just didn’t have the room for them so we’re trying to keep up with that standard now which isn’t easy,” the play director told The Clare Champion.
Some who attended last years play thought that they had wandered into a funeral home. Anybody who entered the hall by the rear door, were met with a ‘body’ which was laid out and circled by seated, apparently ‘grieving’ family members.
“A couple of people went across to the pub and said they were after making a mistake. They landed into John Cahill’s (pub) and said ‘we came out to see a play and we’re after landing into a funeral by accident.’ That actually happened,” Colin McMahon laughed.
“It was a bit risky but I said ‘look it lads, we’re going to go for broke.’ You were forcing the audience to take part in the play, which was brilliant. That’s not usually the case. It’s hard to emulate those things,” he acknowledged.
This years play, The Maiden Aunt, is a comedy set in a farmhouse.
A retired unmarried school teacher, played by Anne Breen, arrives after a spell in hospital to spend some time with her niece, Mary Murphy, played by Sarah Gavin and her husband, Dan, played by John Convey. They hope that their hospitality will be rewarded with a favourable bequest in the old lady’s will.
Dan and Mary are struggling with a son, John Paul, played by newcomer David Clancy, who is only interested in being in a band with his friend, Jarleth, played by fellow newcomer, Aidan O’Loughlin. They have hired a farm labourer, Francie, played by Frankie O’Shea to help them run the farm.
Near neighbour, Caroline Quinn, played by Carmel Hogan, tends to call at the most inappropriate times and the visit of solicitor, Paula Moore, played by first timer, Joanne McNamara is not exactly what was planned either.
The group has been rehearsing since last October.
“It’s part of the social fabric of Kildysart now at this stage,” Colin McMahon said.
He says that the cast tend to enjoy the play more on the second or third night, rather than opening night.
“On the first night you get over your nerves. But then a comfort zone is a dangerous place to be too because you can take your eye off the ball a bit. Somewhere in between is the place to be where everybody knows their lines and every one is comfortable with their character. You can go out and give it holly without making a bubu,” he added.
Some directors sit in the audience but Colin is more at home back stage, for the first night or two anyway.
“For the first one or two, I would be back stage in the wings or out the back. By the third performance I would definitely go down the hall because often you can see things there that you can’t see up at the back. Long time directors are never near the stage, they’re always down the hall looking up. When you’re looking at it from a distance you’re looking at the relationship of the cast with each other and with the set. There’s always something you’d have done differently. I’m really only a fledging director anyway. I’ve only directed two plays before this so you’re always learning,” he acknowledged.
Colin McMahon says that the drama group has helped the evolvement of local facilities.
“I’m only in Kildysart about 15 years but I helped to form the drama group originally. That hall was in a terrible condition but the drama group ultimately kick started renovations to the hall. What evolved from the drama group was a group called Focus which fundraised €350,000 locally and ended up building a €1.5m project,” he noted.
This is the sixteenth year that Kildysart Drama Group has produced a play. Over the sixteen years, the group has produced many memorable plays, including John B Keane classics.
The doors open at Kildysart Community Centre at 7.45pm on Saturday and Sunday.