CRICKLEWOOD COWBOYS

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CRICKLEWOOD COWBOYS

In Cricklewood we had the crack
We went to town and some came back
In Kilburn and Willesden too
We danced in The Banba and the Club 32
(A ramshackle house of bones
In Harlesden High Street
Where the girls danced round their crucifixes
Who knows whom they hoped to meet?)
If you owned a car and didn’t drink Guinness
You were good for a feel if nothing else
But if you wanted to get them into bed
You had to put a roof over their head
Oh, and two little words were important too
And they wanted to hear them loud and clear;
I DO!

THE WATERFORD COLLECTION REVIEW

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THE MUNSTER EXPRESS 24th June 2014

 

ARTS & THEATRE COLUMN

 

 

COLLECTION OF PLAYS REVIEW Tom O’Brien

 

The Co Waterford-born playwright and novelist, Tom O’Brien has just had another successful three week run with another new play, No Blacks, No Dogs, No Poles, in London’s Pentameters Theatre. The play despite its provocative title with echoes of a time when ‘No Irish’ might have given it a London context, but this play is set in an Irish town. I was not able to attend its premiere, but Alan Cliff the (up to last year) Waterford-based playwright went along and gave me his considered opinion. Alan is studying theatre in Manchester.

He described the play as complex in structure with at least four aspects overlapping; the return of a son-in-law, who has married an Aboriginal Australian and this brings out themes of racism and bigotry; a revelation of another characters bi-sexuality; the introduction of drugs into the family via a hostage situation; the revelation of an illicit family member’s affair. The London reviews suggested some confusion with themes of racism, immigration, identity and a longing for the past, spiced with sexual repression.

To coincide with this production O’Brien has brought out a collection of three plays, all with Waterford connections, with the title, The Waterford Collection, and its three plays show the detail and proven ability of the author to forge a career for himself. I still find it hard to understand why no Irish or indeed no Waterford theatre group have as yet staged one of his plays. Stagemad Theatre Company were to do so, but it never came to rehearsal stage.

The cover is impressive with three pictures of the new bridge. The first play Queenie is a 5-hander and tells a poignant story of Victoria Dwan who has been institutionalised, and is now being ‘released’ back into the community. This features open-air stage dancing at Granagh Cross, as she wheels around an indigent accordion player in a pram. This seems so surreal and Beckettian, with a wild theatricality. Queenie is a troubled soul who has second-sight. The play is beautifully ‘threaded’ with music and songs.

The second play, Money From America, is a much darker play about two brothers and a farm. Lardy has spent a lifetime toiling on the Co Waterford farm for little reward, and his older brother Jack returns from America and sees the farm as his rightful inheritance. This conflict involves two female partners, who would not be out of place in a McDonagh play, and it has a dark and dangerous resolution.

The third play, Johnjo, is a one-hander, a monologue set in the late seventies, and is a study of Johnjo McGrath from cradle to grave, from the Comeragh’s to wartime England and the dark underbelly of the construction industry. This is a harsh unrelenting play, but it held my attention all the way, and it is filled with songs and music that is as nostalgic as it is ironic.

Such was the success of the recent Pentameters production that they will present another Tom O’Brien play in London in July, about the women in Brendan Behan’s life, and still no Waterford production.    Liam Murphy

available @  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tom-OBrien/e/B0034OIGOQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1388083522&sr=1-2-ent

 

 

 

 

SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST.

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES – Pentameters Theatre, London.

The quaint Pentameters Theatre of Hampstead is an ideal setting for director Jesse Cooper’s charming and intimate production of Tom O Brien’s No Blacks, No Dogs, No Poles. The play weaves a rich tapestry of cultural perspectives on the Irish diaspora, racism and immigration using the central storyline of the Kennedy family and their social dilemmas as a conduit. The use of space vividly reflects the claustrophobia of both the small minded views frequently depicted within the play as well as the closeness of the complicated relationships which play out on stage.

Having said this, despite the underlying tensions seen both in the tense relationships and strong socio-political opinions; there is great warmth in all of the actor’s performances. The combination of a very funny script and some larger than life performances allow the audience to feel like we have been invited into this Irish household free of airs and graces. The result is a lively and homely political dialogue full of both cliche and insight depending on which character is speaking. A script laden with Irish in jokes, music and family banter is thoroughly entertaining. Meanwhile, clever direction allows the audience to see through the comedic defence mechanisms key characters husband and wife Con and Marion Kennedy employ throughout to disguise their true feelings of despondency in an unhappy marriage.

The theme of home is juxtaposed throughout the plot as despite the deep rooted hatred Con (played by Matthew Ward) expresses about the English oppression of the Irish, his wife Marion ultimately feels that England is her true home. Similarly, the return of son Michael to this household where he no longer feels at home having lived abroad reveals the small minded opinions of his father. As Con shows prejudice towards Michael’s Australian black wife (beautifully played by Rachel Summers), the irony in his previous arguments about the English prejudices towards the Irish is exposed. Sam Turrell gives a brilliant performance as Michael; adopting with ease the measured diplomatic liberalism his character needed to show throughout to contrast the seemingly old fashioned views of his family and their friends. His apparent disgust and embarrassment at his Father’s prejudice and Jimmy’s aggression as well as his genuine attempts to protect his wife from it, seemingly represent a more modern take on ethnicity and immigration.

As well as the catalysts of Michael’s return, and the revealing of an ex-marital affair on the part of Marion, we then have the plot turn full circle as Con’s bisexuality is exposed by Jimmy. The fact that Con finally seeks emotional refuge in his homosexual relationship with a local black construction worker is the ironic icing on the cake so to speak! All in all, the play emphasizes some very relevant disputes about immigration today in a carefully crafted display of love and hate at their most extreme.

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Reviewed 07/06/14

By Emily Mae Winters
@emilymaewinters

20th May- 7th June 2014
Pentameters Theatre, London, NW3.

BUT THERE’S MORE!  MY NEXT PLAY – BRENDAN BEHAN’S WOMEN – ALSO OPENS AT PENTAMETERS NEXT MONTH. 1st – 20th JULY.  DON’T MISS IT!

REVIEW TIME

First review is in for NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES. The reviewer sees the play as ‘a new look at an old problem’ and gives it a fairly decent write-up. I was pleased with it, and I think the cast can be too. There are several more reviews due out on Wed/Thurs this week. Looking forward to them!

 

Image   Image  Image

http://www.reviewsgate.com/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7449

 

 

 

EAT YOUR HEART OUT ALAN AYCKBURN!

OUR FIRST WEEEK DOWN AND WE LEARN THAT WE HAVE OUT-PERFORMED THE LAST PLAY AT THE VENUE – WHICH WAS AN ALAN AYCKBURN OFFERING!  EAT YOUR HEART OUT, ALAN!

AUDIENCE NUMBERS HAVE BEEN VERY GOOD, AND THE RESPONSE EVEN BETTER. EVERYBODY SEEMS TO HAVE GOOD WORDS TO SAY ABOUT IT. ONE INTERESTING COMENT I MUST RELATE; A WOMAN FROM CORK WHO HAD MARRIED A BLACK MAN TOLD ME SHE HAD RECEIVED DOGS ABUSE – AS HAD MANY OTHER IRISH WOMEN IN THE SAME POSITION. HOWEVER, SHE SAID, IRISHMEN WHO HAD MARRIED BLACK WOMEN HADN’T HAD THE SAME ABUSE. NOW, THAT IS INTERESTING!

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES

PENTAMETERS THEATRE, HEATH ST, HAMPSTEAD, LONDON NW3 6TE

TUE – SAT 8pm  SUN 5pm.  ENDS 7th June

box office 0207 435 3648

MISS IT AT YOUR PERIL!

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES – REHEARSAL PHOTOS

Rehearsal pictures of NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO IRISH POLES, taken at Pentameters Theatre

All photos are by SIMON PURSE

Image Matthew Ward as Con

ImageJack Badley as Jimmy

Image                                               Rachel Summers as Cathy & Lucy Aley-Parker as Marion

Image                                                  Jimmy, Con & Nathaniel Farnington as Michael

Image Jesse Cooper as JJ with Marion

BISEXUAL FATHER + RACIST COUSIN + ABORIGINAL WIFE = RACISM AND BIGOTRY IN IRELAND.  DONT MISS!