BOOM? by Isobel Mahon

Directed by Caroline FitzGerald

Next performances:  Droichead Drogheda SOLD OUT Sat 11 November at 8pm

Glor Ennis Thurs 16 November at 8pm  Booking 065 684 3103 / info@glor.ie

Lime Tree Limerick Fri 17 November at 8pm  Booking 061 953 400

Dunamaise Portlaoise Sun 3 December at 8pm Booking 057 866 3355  / info@dunamaise.ie

 

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Selma Mae (Isobel Mahon) is riding the boom, or so it appears to friends and family. She has a perfect husband, perfect kids, a perfect home.
But, when her social-climbing Mother, Carmel (Maria McDermottroe), ‘helpfully’ organises a bash to celebrate her new state-of-the-art extension, Selma begins to wonder who’s life she’s living after all. As the odd assortment of guests; glamorous neighbour Chloe (Claudia Carroll), career-girl sister Maeve (now played by Clelia Murphy), and the eccentric Bernie (Rose Henderson), begin to assemble, it becomes obvious that Carmel’s dream of an elegant ‘do’ is fast descending into chaos.
The night unfolds, old secrets are shared and facades begin to crack. The Boomtime girls are forced to recognise that behind the gloss, true friendship proves the only solid foundation.

 

Take Off Your Cornflakes – created by Rose Henderson and Pat Nolan

A SHOW IN A BAG production for the Dublin Fringe Festival

Directed by Liam Halligan

with original music by Denis Clohessy

 

The Dolmen Theatre

Upstairs @ The Magic Carpet Pub, Cornelscourt, Dublin 18

Monday 25 Sept – Sat 7 October at 8pm, Tickets €15

Booking:  dolmentheatre.ie   /   087-1018202

 

 

Take Off Your Cornflakes is a portrait of a marriage, and yet, a love story.

Tom and Trish have celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary but what happens when he wakes up with a strange woman beside him and she tells him she’s his wife? Trish has to make a choice, which she does, armed only with humour, music and love.

This play is inspired by Rose’s Dad, Jack, who had Alzheimer’s and couldnt remember he had cancer.

He taught us about staying in the present, because that’s where he lived.  We had to learn to never ask a question that didn’t have the answer in the room.  His intelligence made life a crossword puzzle to be solved.  I believe humour is the only way to survive if this topic visits you.

Who am I without my past? Who am I without my partner?  When we go out of our mind, where do we go?

You will laugh, you may cry, but you will find a tender story of the true meaning of love.

 

Show in a bag is an Artist Development Initiative of Dublin Fringe Festival, Fishamble: The New Play Company and Irish Theatre Institute to resource theatre makers and actors

 

 

IRISH TIMES ONLINE 06 September 2017

 

Finding the fun in the fog of Alzheimer’s

Experiences with her father inspired actor Rose Henderson to write a play about Alzheimer’s. Her former Fair City colleague, Pat Nolan, was a co-writer and also stars

 

The best thing about my dad having Alzheimer’s disease was that he couldn’t remember he had cancer.

An engineer who could always fix anything, my dad, Jack Henderson, had started to have a few forgetful moments. I remember him attempting to fix the rearview mirror in the roof of my car and being unable to figure out which direction to turn the screwdriver that was by then upside down.

It was another three years before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and, 10 years later, he developed pancreatic cancer. My mum, Edith, was able to care for him at home until five weeks before he died, in April 2016, in St Michael’s Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.

My mum and dad were one of those couples who still held hands walking down the street. Married 62 years, they had their disagreements as well as their joys but Alzheimer’s was their biggest test. It seemed to us a cruel blow for an intelligent man who was such a gentleman, but it was these qualities which helped everyone who met him to wonder if he had the disease at all.

He always remembered his jokes, and enjoyed them, chuckling long after we had moved on to another topic. The choice was to laugh rather than cry in the face of disaster.

I hope that telling my parents’ story through a new play for the Dublin Fringe Festival, showing their daily reality and demonstrating their courage, will help to remove the stigma and to humanise the disease.

Moments of joy

People with Alzheimer’s are not zombies. In later stages they can withdraw, but there is often a key to ignite their focus and help them find moments of joy. My dad was never a singer, but at a birthday party his friend handed him the words of a song and he sang a solo with tuneful panache, surprising us all.

Take Off Your Cornflakes is my testament to him. Although, my former Fair City colleague, Pat Nolan, and I have created characters and a new story in this Show in a Bag production, there’s a lot of my dad in there. We hope that anyone who has been touched by this disease (which affects one in four families in Ireland) will recognise the journey of these characters, laugh at shared dilemmas and maybe learn a few ways to find relief.

Trish in the play has to make a choice – to survive or succumb to the pressure. She makes this choice armed only with humour, music and love. I believe humour is the only way to survive if this condition visits you.

We have been laughing a lot in rehearsals, learning to dance with Diane Richardson, trying to talk while dancing (we may abandon that), and Liam Halligan, who directs, nudges us gently to explore new ways of moving and staying true to the story which covers a period of 35 years.

I was rarely with my dad 24 hours a day, and was mostly able to enjoy my time with him. For my mum it was much harder, watching her best buddy steadily disconnect from their well-rehearsed repartee. It’s a lonely place, making decisions for both of them, and carers are largely unsupported by the health services (they managed to get an hour and a half of home help).

Kindness of neighbours

Without the kindness of local people, I don’t know how long mum could have kept him at home. The staff of Solo Café in Killiney would keep an eye on him while she did their grocery shopping, refusing to accept his repeated offers of money, and plying him with another coffee if she had not come back. The council even let him off a parking fine once, when he spent three hours searching for his car. How often does that happen!

Neighbours dropped everything when I was onstage in the Tivoli and brought mum to the hospital when he was ill. Their car mechanic, in PK Motors Blackrock, shut up shop, put on a suit, and came to dad’s funeral. Please know these kindnesses make a world of difference to a carer.

It was the little things that broke my mum’s heart, like having to buy her own Christmas present from him. Now, since his death, she finds herself surrounded by lovely friends and family – but alone.

To get this story on stage, Pat Nolan and I have had huge support and encouragement from Fishamble, the Irish Theatre Institute and Fringe Fest who run the Show in a Bag initiative to encourage actors to write and produce a new piece of theatre.

I miss my lovely dad. The writing of this play has been cathartic and enlightening, and I hope when people come, they will laugh, they may cry, but they will find more than just a story of Alzheimer’s, they will find a tender story of the true meaning of love.

 

REVIEWS

The Fringe:  from Rasputin to Alzheimer’s

Emer O’Kelly – Sunday Independent, Sept 17, 2017

Take Off Your Cornflakes by Rose Henderson and Pat Nolan, also part of the Show in a Bag initiative at the Fringe Festival, has it all: the initial joking references to losing one’s marbles, the increasing irritation at seeming thoughtlessness, the terror at finding the world alien, the anguish of the dark cloud of irrational suspicion of nameless betrayals, all culminating in a once passionately and deeply loved companion becoming merely a mindless cloud, and for the one who has retreated, what can only be hoped is a painless nirvana of loss.

The two authors play Trish and her taxi-driver husband Tommy, to perfection, directed by Liam Halligan with music by Denis Clohessy.

 

 

Sunday Times, September 24, 2017

Fiona Charleton

Happy marriages rarely feature in theatre and when they do, tragedy usually lurks just a scene away.  In this Show in a Bag production, written and performed by Rose Henderson and Pat Nolan, Trish and Tommy are married 25 years when his Alzheimer’s flips them from living to coping.  Such topics require sensitive handling and director Liam Halligan steers a steady path.  Tommy’s symptoms start small, such as forgetting the odd word.  They laugh it off, since he’s only 54.  As the ending is sadly inevitable, the story arc is more emotional than narrative.  Henderson and Nolan have such natural chemistry that, like Trish, we are smiling through tears for much of the show.

 

An acutely observed piece inspired by Henderson’s family experience, this has an authentic dignity which affirms that love and good humour can coexist with heartbreak.

 

 

The Arts Review ****

Dublin Fringe Festival 2017: Take Off Your Cornflakes

September 18, 2017

By  Chris O’Rourke

Two Down Ten Letters

“Take Off Your Cornflakes,” by Pat Nolan and Rose Henderson, should come with a warning. At the very least it should stipulate ‘bring your own supply of tissues.’ Between tears when you want to laugh, and laughing when you want to cry, “Take Off Your Cornflakes” can be something of an emotional rollercoaster.  This is a story of two people. Flawed, overwhelmed, and in love in sickness and in health, “Take Off Your Cornflakes” follows the experiences of Trish and Tommy, good people in a bad place, as Alzheimer’s takes hold in what is one of the most sensitive, heartfelt, and uplifting shows of the festival.

 

Reminiscent of the 2001 movie “Iris,” staring Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent, “Take Off Your Cornflakes” follows something of the same format and structure, dropping linear narrative and weaving past and present like a rich, luscious layer cake. Busman, and later taxi driver, Tommy, the man with the ready joke always to hand, has been getting forgetful lately. Trish reckons it’s the stress that’s got him into this state. As time passes and Tommy’s condition deteriorates, Trish has to adapt as her relationship shifts from wife to minder, lover to carer. Helpless as her partner becomes her patient, requiring her to have the patience of Job, Trish must face the transformation alone. With family away in San Francisco and Manchester, a son and daughter of the diaspora, Trish is left with phone calls, letters, and Skype calls for moral support. In the end it’s left to Trish to learn to agree, to divert, to distract, to reassure, and reminisce, over and over and over when Tommy needs it. Yet when the brain breaks down, love speaks up. Sometimes in every thing you do, other times in a brief moment of clarity.

 

Director Liam Halligan does a neat job with a script whose ordinariness conceals some intense depths below. Keeping pace and emotion balanced right on the line, Halligan ensures “Take Off Your Cornflakes” may tipple in places, but it never fully topples into becoming a sentimental tearjerker. Video imagery by Kieran McBride, lighting by Colm Maher and music by Denis Clohesy reinforce Halligan’s sense of the heartbreaking ordinariness of the experience. Pat Nolan is outstanding as the fun, life-loving Tommy, always telling a ridiculous joke, loving his wife and family more than anything, trying to hang on their memory by crosswords or memory games as his mind, and he, disappear. Indeed, Nolan just keeps getting better and better as Tommy gets worse, delivering a beautifully understated, heart wrenching performance. Rose Henderson as Trish, a woman who never complains, hiding her pain, and her needs, behind a forced smile is wonderfully compelling throughout. Clinging to Tommy in every moment, ready to kill him in the next, Henderson’s Trish is deeply moving as the wife who wants her husband back. For an hour. A day. A moment. Throughout, there’s a charm and ease, and an irresistible chemistry between Nolan and Henderson, that is utterly enchanting.

 

Hats off to A Show in a Bag, brainchild of Fishamble: The New Play Company, Irish Theatre Institute and Dublin Fringe Festival. When new writing all too often meansyoung new writing, supporting a new work like “Take Off Your Cornflakes” as part of the four A Show in a Bag productions in the festival, helps challenge the ageism many feel dominates Irish theatre, especially when it comes to new writing. Hats off, too, to Pat Nolan and Rose Henderson for crafting a work of such sensitivity and relevance, giving voice and immediacy to the experience of those afflicted by Alzheimer’s. When all too often works by older writers are nostalgically looking back, Nolan and Henderson are firmly in the here and now, looking forward.

 

When it hits, Alzheimer’s is a puzzle that can’t be solved, only lived with, and it takes all those around it down in one shape or form. “Take Off Your Cornflakes” refuses to stay down and reclaims something back from that battle. Refusing to go quietly into that dark night,Take Off Your Cornflakes” is a heartbreaking joy, full of love, laughter, and the living of every moment. And of jokes so bad you just can’t help laughing. So don’t miss “Take Off Your Cornflakes.” Remember to take your loved one with you, no matter what your age, and don’t forget to ask them to dance.

 

 

 

Tale of dementia gets a heartfelt touch

WHERE DO ALL THE MEMORIES GO?

Michael Moffatt – Irish Mail on Sunday

SHOW OF THE WEEK ****

This latest play on the subject is seen very much from the point of view of Trish, watching her husband Tommy slowly losing his memory as she tries to cope with her own problems while trying to keep a watchful eye on his.

By themselves, those escalating episodes would make for a pretty routine production, but the play, written by the two performers, skilfully keeps the loving relationship central to everything, and the script is enlivened by Tommy’s ability to retain elements of his sense of humour based on word-play and his interest in crosswords; screen projection illustrates forgotten times and places.  The ability to remember names and places is vital to taxi driver Tommy.

Rose Henderson as Trish and Pat Nolan as Tommy give very moving performances as a couple clinging to love and affection despite the impossible situation.

 

 

Kevin Worrall – Meg.ie – Sept 13, 2017

Take Off Your Cornflakes takes on a complex subject matter.  A complicated topic rarely tackled in theatre.  Directed by Liam Halligan, this Fishamble production offers an honest and heartfelt portrayal of living with Alzheimer’s.

The couple’s chemistry is beautiful.  Portraying a typical Irish couple who have shared a million laughs and a million heartbreaks.  Not only does it lend a voice to those suffering with dementia, but it gives a platform for those who have to watch a loved one go through it.

All in all, the message behind the project is very simple.  To appreciate one’s past, but to more importantly, live in the present.

RUBY TUESDAY by Rose Henderson

Performed by Helen Norton (Fair City, The Heiress) and Rose Henderson (Fair City, Father Ted) and Directed by Deirdre Molloy

Viking Theatre, Clontarf 8 May – 20 May

Tickets €12 Booking 087-1129970 / www.vikingtheatredublin.com

Bewley’s Cafe Theatre at Powerscourt Townhouse 24 April 24 – 6 May 

                                                                   Tickets €10-12, Booking 086-8784001 / www.bewleyscafetheatre.com

 

The Dolmen Theatre, Cabinteely, Preview 6 Feb, Opening Tue 7 Feb – 18 Feb

Tickets €15 Booking 087-1018202

In her gilded cage in the leafy suburbs of Dublin, Mrs. T has managed to hold onto her middle class lifestyle but at what cost?  Filling her life with writers’ groups, yoga holidays, school reunions and obsessive cleaning is not quite enough. Her marriage is a sham, and her daughter wants to get away as far and fast as possible.  She has to pick up the pieces or succumb to depression.

Her husband may control her spending, but she does have a cleaning lady, Ruby, who calls every Tuesday to clean the house and blow away the cobwebs of Mrs. T’s life with sarcasm, wit and common sense.

This keenly observed comedy brings together two women who come to depend on each other for laughter and sanity, while their home life disintegrates around them.

As their stories unfold we see how banter and laughter help them to deal with the betrayals of children, the cold indifference of a failed marriage and the domestic catastrophes behind the double-glazing, spit and polish.

 

Emer O’Kelly, Sunday Independent 30 April 2017

IF YOU WANT CHARM, YOU’LL GET IT IN SPADES FROM RUBY TUESDAY …

GOOD OBSERVATION…

THERE IS A CONSIDERABLE AUDIENCE FOR THIS MATERIAL AND HENDERSON HAS HIT IT SUCCESSFULLY…

THE CHARM TRUMPS ALL.

 

No More Workhorse – Review by P McGovern

Anyone expecting from the title that there’s a Rolling Stones angle will have to settle for Peter Skellern and a bit of ragtime piano.  The world presented in this revival of Rose Henderson’s 2008 play is not rebellious or even vaguely Rock ‘n Roll. It is the staid, mundane and uneventful world of two women – at least it appears so, on the surface. Like most lives, however, when you glimpse beyond the surface there are all kinds of hidden personal dramas, involving relationship difficulties, the onset of ageing, and the grief of bereavement. Henderson has reworked the piece significantly from the original version, developing the relationship between two women, Mrs. T and Ruby, the woman who cleans for her. Yes, on Tuesdays.

The characters are well delineated: middle-class Mrs. T, all smiley, open, bubbly charm, warm and empathic; Ruby a no-nonsense working class woman, good-natured but clear-eyed, with a very realistic sense of the world around her and her own place in it.  As the two settle into their weekly routine of laundering, dusting and cleaning, it seems as if we are in for a straightforward, slice-of-domestic-life and girl-talk piece. However, all is not as bland and cosy as it first appears. Both women have encountered serious problems in their family lives and, in their respective crises, each has thrown the other “a lifeline”, reinforcing the bond of friendship beyond the boundaries of employer/employee. The seriousness of the play is leavened with a lot of fun and the plot is enlivened with time lapses into girlhood and recapturing a few serious moments too. Colm Maher’s lighting design readily signals the shifts in time, place and character and, like Deirdre Molloy’s sympathetic direction, it does so without fuss.

Both Rose Henderson as Mrs T and Helen Norton as Ruby are excellent.  Henderson’s wreathed, beaming smiles and fluttering movements and her eagerness to please at her schoolgirls’ reunion somehow belie an underlying anxiety to fit in and a need for affirmation.  Norton’s Rose doubles as Mrs. T’s teenage sister of 30 years ago, effortlessly changing from inner city working class to solid Dublin middle-class, giggly school girl on holiday and later to the neighbour who calls in a misguided but well-intentioned effort to be helpful. When the darker side of Ruby’s life experience surfaces, it is deeply affecting, all the more so for the restraint in the acting and direction.

An odd weakness in the production is the stage set, not explained by the restricted space.  Two cream-coloured, leatherette dining chairs of an “apartment fit-out” type and an odd-looking table draped with a cloth that reaches the floor. A €5-type of printed image of a cow as the only picture on the walls.  The whole impression sits uneasily with the image of a couple that goes on golfing trips to South Africa.  However, the strength of the performances means that such minor issues don’t really take from an enjoyable and worthwhile lunchtime performance which continues at Powerscourt Theatre, South William St, daily at 1 pm until May 6th

 

 

 

John McKeown Irish Daily Mail 11 April 2008

Cleaning Lady makes a Fine Agony Aunt…

Verdict:  Spunky comic two-hander ****

Writer Rose Henderson has come up with something fresh and often very funny.  There’s the class reunion where Mrs. T assures her friends that she won’t say a word about her wonderful children, but can chatter about nothing else.  That’s followed by a demonstration of Mrs. T’s ability to slip into her ‘yogic state’ at will.  The personal griefs she unburdens on Ruby are treated more seriously, but there’s an irrepressible quality to Mrs. T’s laments, lit by unsettling flashes of honesty.  Henderson’s first play, deftly directed by Deirdre Molloy, is a lively, irreverent piece of writing.

 

 

Lucy White Metro 22 April 2008

Initially threatened by loud drumming from Grafton Street, Ruby Tuesday found its own rhythm, weaving real-time conversations between the two women with seamless flashbacks – a pile of laundry was fashioned very convincingly into a bawling babe in arms when new-mother Mrs. T recalled a touching phone call with her own mum.  Rose Henderson wrote and stars, playing Mrs. T down to a, well, tea.  Inspired by women who work in the home, Henderson has mingled her own personal experiences with poetic license for a heart-warming tale of friendship in unlikely places.  Helen Norton meanwhile plays the pragmatic Ruby without ever resorting to working-class caricature.  Mrs. T might be just another middle-aged wife/mother/daughter trying to reclaim her identity after the kids have flown the nest but her plight is touchingly handled.  Issues of dieting, absent husbands, miscarriage, moody children and self-help books may point towards a very specific demographic, but the performances ensure Ruby Tuesday is a little gem anyone can enjoy.

 

 

Gerry Colgan Irish Times 4 April 2008

Mrs. T is an upper crust suburban housewife whose life has been difficult, leaving her vulnerable to introspection and neuroses. Ruby is the cleaning lady who adds dollops of common sense and realism to her routine chores.  Rose Henderson’s play juxtaposes these two characters to some effect.  Their short soliloquies and exchanges provide pleasant entertainment for the audience.  The author has much to offer.  There are neat alter ego tricks to exploit the possibilities of theatre as when both characters become Mrs. T, fending off false friendship in contrasting ways.  The actors – the author and the ebullient Helen Norton – hit the right notes to generate the laughter of recognition.

 

 

Sara Keating Sunday Business Post 27 April 2008 ***

Henderson plays the self-obsessed Mrs. T, whose secret weaknesses for cream buns and old-fashioned crooners make her more of a fallible heroine than a martyr.  Norton gives a delightfully physical performance as the dogged cleaning lady, Ruby.  The more difficult scenes of Henderson’s play are comprehensively executed, such as the scene where Norton becomes a stand-in for Mrs. T’s conscience, embodying Mrs. T’s inner voice to comic effect.  Some of the acerbic social observation in the play is penetrating and acute, such as the peculiarly female habit of celebrating other people’s problems while pretending to sympathise.  A packed house revelled in Henderson’s biting take on domesticity.

 

* * * * *

Is Daniel a Registered Gas Installer?

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Unfortunately not!  The new RGI safety advert is making waves on all TV channels.  Rose aka “Mary” is a big Daniel O’Donnell fan and thrilled to be welcoming him to her home.  Her room is adorned with Daniel paraphernalia: albums, mugs, embroidered fire guard, hand-painted painting, home made iced cake, cushions.  She is his number one fan.  Serving him hot water out of her best china (Daniel does not drink tea), she apologises for the cold room.  “The boiler is acting up.”  He very kindly offers to take a look at it for her, but I’m afraid he has overstepped a very important safety line!!  Mary asks him to leave – throws him out.  He’s perplexed, but as she pulls down the blind in her drawing room to shut him out, we see it has his lovely face on it, but she is devastated.  Her hero was not a Registered Gas Installer.

Now.

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“BOOM?” by Isobel Mahon

Directed by Caroline FitzGerald

Next performances:  Mermaid Theatre
Fri 2 December – Sat 3 December, at 8pm
Tickets e15 Booking 01-2724030

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Selma Mae (Isobel Mahon) is riding the boom, or so it appears to friends and family. She has a perfect husband, perfect kids, a perfect home.
But, when her social-climbing Mother, Carmel (Maria McDermottroe), ‘helpfully’ organises a bash to celebrate her new state-of-the-art extension, Selma begins to wonder who’s life she’s living after all. As the odd assortment of guests; glamorous neighbour Chloe (Claudia Carroll), career-girl sister Maeve (now played by Clelia Murphy), and the eccentric Bernie (Rose Henderson), begin to assemble, it becomes obvious that Carmel’s dream of an elegant ‘do’ is fast descending into chaos.
The night unfolds, old secrets are shared and facades begin to crack. The Boomtime girls are forced to recognise that behind the gloss, true friendship proves the only solid foundation.

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Maria McDermottroe, Rose Henderson, Aisling O’Neill, Claudia Carroll and Isobel Mahon, in rehearsal.

Sunday Independent

It’s a comedy that’s light and fun, but which packs a razor-sharp edge, says Emer O’Kelly

Isobel Mahon’s Boom? is set 10 years ago, at the height of (you’ve guessed it) the mythical economic boom.  Yet it could as readily be contemporary, and that’s in its favour.  She is setting out to satirise the pretentious vulgarity of suburbia, specifically areas of south County Dublin in 2006, but both her characters and the situation are as much of today as a decade ago.

Forty-something Selma Mae’s husband has walked out on her, plunging her into a nervous breakdown, an abortive attempt to slash her wrists, and a successful attempt at wrecking her brand new kitchen.  Now she’s out of hospital and having a drinks party to “celebrate” her return to normality.

But with a mother like Carmel, obsessed with appearances, that’s not going to be easy.  And then there’s Chloe from down the road, mistress of all things trendy, and the possessor (in her own mind) of the solutions to everyone’s problems.  Add in Selma Mae’s older sister Maeve, ahead of her in the separation stakes, cynical and with a tongue like a razor, and you have a lethal mix even before you add in Bernie – the obsessive compulsive neurotic who Selma has met in hospital, but who is definitely not the class of person Carmel wants her daughter to be associating with.

This production at the Dolmen Theatre in Cabinteely in Dublin is as light as a feather, thanks to Mahon’s sure ear for dialogue.  But she also has a good touch with reality checks, and there’s a real sense of empathy with the trials of modern life, even when cushioned by designer takeaways for parties, golf club membership and the latest mod-con gadgetry.

Director Caroline FitzGerald has assembled a first-class cast and handles them with a deft touch.  The author herself plays Selma, with Maria McDermottroe as Carmel, Claudia Carroll as Chloe, Aisling O’Neill as Maeve, and Rose Henderson as Bernie.

All are terrific, but O’Neill does slightly edge the lead as the unapologetically vicious Maeve.

Design is by Conor Neville with lighting by Ben Downey.

 

Sunday Mail

Michael Moffatt show of the week

WHAT REMAINS WHEN THE GLITTER FADES…

Isobel Mahon’s play comes as a follow-up to that day of wrath in the Abbey last year when the Waking the Feminist movement took over the theatre for a day to bemoan the sad lot of women in the theatrical world.  So to balance things, here’s a play written by a woman for herself and four other women, about women’s problems, directed by Caroline Fitzgerald.

The theme of family difficulties is certainly up-to-date but there’s a problem balancing the comic and serious elements of the story, whether to go for breezy comedy or for a satirical look at the pretentious and flamboyant lifestyles of the Celtic Tiger boomers.

Selma Mae, married to an architect, with a nice home sweet kids, and a new super house extension to show off, has some friends and relations over to celebrate.  There’s one snag – not everyone knows that she recently spent time in a psychiatric hospital.  Why that happened is central to the story.

When her pushy mother takes over the job of managing the evening, and the friends turn up, cracks appear in the apparently glittering lifestyles, secrets are uncovered, and celebration declines into disintegration.

The comic element needs a sophisticated touch to keep the serious aspects in focus, but often, especially in the case of the mother, Carmel (Maria McDermottroe) an ignorant interfering monster, the comedy comes across as having all the delicacy of a sledgehammer wielded by a pantomime dame.

Which is a pity because, in general, the characters and the situation are full of possibilities,

Aisling O’Neill as Maeve, the embittered sister with a waspish tongue is a credible creation, the sort who can bring a sharper comic edge to a serious role.  She’s well contrasted with the fashion-conscious, allergic-to-everything Chloe (Claudia Carroll) full of psychobabble and instant empathy, but not quite as gormless as she appears.  Maeve’s big dramatic bust-up with Chloe is one of the play’s stronger scenes.

Bernie, Selma’s former psychiatric inmate pal, very nicely played by Rose Henderson, is a genuinely interesting character, but she’s lumbered with rather obvious neurotic tics and traits spelling out everything.  Isobel Mahon’s own role as the doleful Selma is all the better for being understated.

There’s potential here for the exposure of shallow lives and shattered dreams, and some crisper editing and firmer direction might sharpen the comic elements.  But nonetheless, the audience clearly enjoyed itself.

“You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Stuart Thomas

Directed by Ronnie McCann
Producer: ZAC Group

Tivoli Theatre

IMG_1452Watch as Katherine leads an exceptional cast including Rose Henderson (Fair City), Seamus Moran (Fair City), Noella Brennan (Fair City), Emma Barry (Fifty One Shades of Maggie) and Karl Bowe (Mr Ireland) through a story of family ups and downs in the way only Katherine Lynch can. This is a show guaranteed to have you laughing all the way home. A night not to be missed!

Middle-aged Barbara’s broken-hearted when hubby Henry dumps her. But soon she’s having the best sex of her life with hunky Zak, the much younger handyman who’s artexing her box room.

Mags, Barbara’s sister, played by Katherine Lynch is a serial singleton, who is addicted to Tinder and one night stands. What will Mags and Marie say when they find out about Babs and Zak? And is Zak too good to be true? And what if Henry changes his mind?

Crammed with laughs, tears and songs like ‘I’m In the Mood for Dancing’, ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Happy’ and of course, ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’, this heart-warming, raunchy comedy about love will be your best night out this year!

 

Friday and Saturday nights at the Tivoli for the month of April, 2016
Booking Ticketmaster

Presented by the Zac Group.

All Sorts of Wild Reports – Women of 1916 – Findlater’s Church

Dublin: One City One Book

‘All sorts of wild reports have been circulated about the enemy. We met a detachment of the Veteran Corps marching to Greystones who told us: ‘bad news from Dublin. All the wires cut, street fighting already in progress, and very few soldiers about’ From the Diary of Monica Roberts

On Wednesday 20th April at 7 p.m. a special evening featuring dramatised descriptions of the 1916 Rising will take place in Abbey Presbyterian Church (Findlater’s) on Parnell Square. In what promises to be a highlight of the Dublin: One City One Book Festival, the experiences of a diverse group of women during the fighting of Easter week, will be brought to life by actors, complemented by singers and musicians from the Royal Irish Academy of Music.

We will hear the voices of women who recorded their experiences of the Rising. It is the story of women as soldiers, nurses, cooks, gun-runners, gossips, hostesses and writers. Excerpts are taken from the diaries and letters of volunteer nurses Nora and Jean Fitzpatrick, visiting opera singer Elsie McDermid, labour activist Rosie Hackett and diarist Monica Roberts.

Dublin: One City, One Book is an award-winning Dublin City Council initiative, led by Dublin City Public Libraries, which encourages everyone to read a book connected with the capital city during the month of April every year.
This year’s Dublin: One City One Book choice is Fallen by author Lia Mills and the setting in Findlater’s Church for All Sorts of Wild Reports is significant as Katie, the main character in Fallen, lived in Rutland Square (now called Parnell Square).

Show created and produced by Rose Henderson.

Actors performing at the event: Catherine Byrne, Rose Henderson, Isobel Mahon, Jennifer O’Dea and Kerrie O’Sullivan.

RIAM singers performing are Lorna Breen (soprano), Eimear McCarthy Luddy (mezzo soprano) and Peter Manning (baritone).

RIAM pianist – Keith Stears

Admission is free, booking is essential.

Weighing In by Ger Gallagher

Weighing In

NEXT PERFORMANCES:

TWO WEEKS: CIVIC THEATRE, TALLAGHT
Mon 23 November – Sat 5 December 2015 at 8.15pm
Booking: 01-4627477

Director: Caroline Fitzgerald

Starring: Rose Henderson and Isobel Mahon

 

 

Reviewer: Rachel Rafferty – The Public Reviews

Probably one of the most appealing features of Ger Gallagher’s hilarious comedy, Weighing In is that at its heart is an all too familiar story that centers on two major aspects of women’s lives – identity and the body. Uproariously satirizing society’s contemporary obsession with the body beautiful, this two-hander is set in a small town in rural Ireland. The plot revolves around the svelte and hugely driven, blow in, Pam McGowan (Isobel Mahon) and the more amply proportioned, local Breda Lynch (Rose Henderson). Both are members of the nearby Easi-Slim clinic, but the difference is Pam having already lost a whole four stone has the prestige of being a life-long member while Breda is struggling. The two women bond, as the super-fit, Pam takes on Breda as her protégé in the battle of the bulge. Steered along by Pam’s leadership, a mixture of pep talks, pop psychology and power walks, Breda eventually begins to see results. However, as their friendship develops, an interesting parallel in the relationship emerges, for just as Breda drops the weight, so also does Pam drop her carefully, controlled veneer

The action takes place on the housewives’ power walks and Gallagher’s sharply funny dialogue is evident throughout. Pam and Breda lament for example, the unfortunate Dolores, who though a long-term attendee of the clinic actually got so fat she needs help to get up on the scales. Fitzgerald’s clean direction is obvious in this energetic, fast paced performance.

The actors also have a great rapport – Mahon’s Pam is a very heightened performance, a parody of a manic control-freak becoming almost cartoonish at times. Yet, she instills just enough humanity into the role to save it from veering over into caricature. This is tempered by Henderson’s very grounded Breda, down to earth, mammyish, plumb and pleasant.

At interludes, the offstage, voice of the Class Leader, in the form of Rosaleen Linehan’s voiceover adds to the fun. She dispenses tips, and advice, much of couched in those tired clichés that are the mainstay of most slimming clubs. Such hackneyed slogans as: ‘Fridge pickers wear bigger knickers.’

The play works on a deeper level also, positing the idea that obsessive dieting is just a fetish hiding a deeper need. The question is: what brings happiness? Pam is wealthy and gorgeous, but lonely, while the frumpy Breda’s home life is fulfilling and happy!

 

Reviewer: Frank L. No More Workhorse

We are constantly being told that obesity is a killer disease and we all need to eat less, to eat more wisely and to exercise. The first week in January after the excesses of the festive season is an entirely appropriate time to return to this less than amusing topic. Maybe an upstairs theatre in Dublin’s most iconic café, Bewleys in Grafton Street, is not the ideal venue in which to encourage eating less but that no way inhibits Breda (Rose Henderson) nor Pam (Isobel Mahon). Pam is new in town but is a long time successful member of Easi-slim (think target weight achieved, 4 stone lost, power walking guru, life time free membership); Breda shall we say is less successful and the problems of being a good wife and mother to her two sons have diverted her from success at Easi-slim. Pam brooks no arguments as she decides to take Breda in hand. They become bosom pals as they keep unwanted calories and needed exercise firmly in their sights.

Henderson and Mahon complement each splendidly in a two hander which takes a fair old swipe at the slimming industry. At the regular weigh-ins which take place weekly, the voice (off stage) of the Easi-slim guru (Rosaleen Linehan) gives advice, makes comments on the weekly weight losses, if any, and throws in for good measure some home truths as “encouragement” for those fighting the flab.

The inflections in her voice and the variety of its tones make a great foil for Breda and Pam to drive forward comically with their own personal battles which are not just about weight.

Losing weight is no laughing matter but adding humour to the ingredients must help the task to be a little bit easier. Weighing In has the right mixture of the difficulties and the obsessiveness which are likely to be encountered in any diet leavened by the comic script of Ger Gallagher, which is delivered with considerable skill by Rose Henderson and Isobel Mahon, that there is more than a good chance that smiles will dance merrily along the lips. In fact a large cream bun in Bewleys might be just what is needed to celebrate the inner glow that this production radiates!

 

 

Reviewer:  Emer O’Kelly Sunday Independent

 

The lovely Emer O’Kelly hated Weighing In but I give you the grudging compliments she couldn’t ignore:

 

Rose Henderson’s endearing Breda is directed with her usual professionalism by Caroline FitzGerald,  The audience at Bewley’s Cafe Theatre in Grafton Street at luncthime, 95% of them women, adored it.  It is a relaxed way of spending a lunchtime hour.