THE autumn season at the Lyric Theatre kicks off this week with a mad maelstrom of music, drink and mayhem in the celebrated Irish classic, The Playboy of the Western World by J.M Synge.
As the darker nights draw in, the Lyric invites you to savour a rich harvest of drama in its forthcoming season that will thrill theatre-lovers and newcomers alike. The next five months, from September to January, can be summed up with five figures:
- 5 people affected by knife crime
- 4 characters splitting their sides in A&E
- 3 women who look suspiciously witch-like
- 2 children with a very sweet tooth
- And 1 rather fetching Playboy
Fans of Synge will delight in this very energetic, primal production of The Playboy of the Western World under the direction of Conall Morrison, who won Best Director for The Crucible – the first play in the newly built theatre.
Starring Patrick Moy (The Importance of Being Earnest) and Orla Fitzgerald (The Wind that Shakes the Barley), Playboy pulls no punches in its portrayal of life in the west of Ireland. It tells the story of a stranger Christy Mahon who takes refuge in a shebeen and is idolised by the locals after claiming he has killed his father.That is until his ‘dead’ father walks in…
Belfast Festival at Queen’s
The dark theme continues as the witching hour approaches in October with the return of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies, Macbeth. The bloody tale of murders, witchcraft and the corrupting effects of ambition is directed by Lynne Parker who creates a darkly comic version of the Scottish play by harnessing the wit and muscularity of the Ulster idiom.
The strong cast includes Andrea Irvine as Lady Macbeth, Stuart Graham as Macbeth and Michael Condron as Banqo. This five-week run on the Northern Bank Stage is part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s and includes Wednesday matinees, ideal for school groups which enjoy a discounted rate.
Northern Ireland premiere
The Lyric’s Naughton Studio also offers a season of powerful drama beginning with The Long Road by Shelagh Stephenson. This poignant play tackles one family’s journey to cope with a senseless knife attack which claims their young son’s life.
Directed by the Lyric’s Artistic Director, Richard Croxford, this Northern Ireland premiere deals with the tragic scourge of knife crime and is recommended for adults over 16.
Taking advantage of the fantastic acoustics in the Northern Bank Stage, Wonderland Promotions presents singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy for one night only on 10 October.
Having toured the world supporting Van Morrison, this consummate performer will sing a wide range of his hits and a selection from his current album, Voice.
Comedian-actress-columnist Nuala McKeever takes to the Naughton Studio in November with a dark comedy In The Window about a depressed woman who confronts a burglar in her own home. Expect to laugh and be moved to tears in this hilarious and often poignant look at what happens when two very different people are thrown together unexpectedly for one life-changing night.
A Christmas treat for young and old, the enchanting musical fairy-tale Hansel + Grettel returns to the Lyric’s Northern Bank Stage from 2 December to 13 January.
The well-known traditional tale about two clever children, two desperate parents, and an ill-advised trip into the woods, where the children meet a witch with a most unusual taste in home décor, is set to a toe-tapping score that is sure to light up the festive season.
Local writer and composer Paul Boyd first staged this popular children’s musical at the Lyric in 1999 and it remains the most commercially successful musical production ever staged in the theatre’s long history.
For the grown-ups who want to get into the Christmas spirit and those who don’t, the Lyric finishes the year with a brand new comedy revue, Forget Turkey! (We’re going to Phuket this Christmas).
Set in an A&E department with an elderly man on a trolley and aided by not-so-innocent members of the public, this hysterical Christmas comedy looks back on a busy year of historic events, Olympic achievements and dubious Shades of Grey…
Penned by talented trio, Dan Gordon, Colin Murphy and Gary Mitchell, this is the perfect escape from hectic Christmas shopping and awkward New Year parties with the neighbours. Forget Turkey!runs from 13 December to 13 January at various times, with prices to suit even Scrooge from £10 to £18. Enjoy tasty festive bowl food, mince pie and a glass of wine or bottle of beer before the performance.
There are plenty of opportunities for young and not-so-young to get involved with the Lyric, whether it be a one-off workshop or drama programme.
Enrolment is now open for the autumn term of the Lyric Theatre School, which runs from September to December and offers a fantastic range of drama programmes for children and adults. See the Lyric website for more information www.lyrictheatre.co.uk/theatre-training.
The Lyric is delighted to welcome back London-based director Scott Williams to deliver another one-week intensive course in September on the world famous Meisner Technique. This acting course is appropriate for practitioners new to the technique, but will also extend to those who have previous experience. In addition, there will be a three hour evening course for beginners.
Advance notice spring highlight
The star of The Thick of It, and TV show Mock The Week, Chris Addison brings his critically acclaimed tour The Time Is Now, Again to the Lyric Theatre for one night only on 10 March. Book now for this top-class comic on the Northern Bank Stage, whose solo show was described by Time Out magazine as “gloriously funny”
“This has been a wonderfully rewarding year both on and off stage at the Lyric,” said Lyric Artistic Director Richard Croxford. “We are delighted to welcome back Conall Morrison, the award-winning director of our opening production The Crucible, to work his genius on The Playboy of the Western World which opens our autumn season.
“We have plenty of first class drama to keep you entertained and enthralled over the next few months and perhaps pick up some more theatre awards along the way. We are thrilled to be a part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s which includes our stunning production of one of the greatest plays of all time, Macbeth.
“I’m also looking forward to directing the Northern Ireland premiere of The Long Road. And you know it won’t be long until we serve up a truly tasty Christmas with Hansel + Grettel for schools and families and, for very big children, our adult comedy revue of Northern Ireland in 2012, ForgetTurkey!”
Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chief Executive, Roisín McDonough, said: “The Lyric Theatre has helped put Northern Ireland on the artistic map over the past year. It has won a string of theatre and architectural awards and has even been shortlisted for the prestigious Stirling Prize. However, asNorthern Ireland’s only full-time producing theatre, the key aim is to stage quality drama and the Lyric’s autumn season doesn’t fail to deliver. Audiences can anticipate programme highlights, including both an Irish and a Shakespearean classic – The Playboy of the Western World andMacbeth. We look forward to another successful season at this wonderful arts venue.”
Gerry Mallon, Northern Bank Chief Executive congratulated the Lyric on a fantastic year. He said: “We approach our second autumn season with great anticipation for the new productions on the Northern Bank Stage. I must congratulate the Lyric Theatre after having won 16 awards ranging from performances to branding to tourism.
“As our local economy continues to reap the benefits of increased tourism figures we are proud to have an award-winning cultural offering and a building that is not only loved by the judges and architects, but also by visitors and patrons including our Bank staff and customers.”
For more information on the Lyric’s season, go to www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or contact the Box Office on (028) 9038 1081.