Irreverent Marian Carr drama takes 'sidesways look at death'September 20, 2012 - 7:00am
Marina Carr’s play Woman and Scarecrow will be performed at the Town Hall Theatre next Wednesday and Thursday by Cork based company Blood in the Alley.
In this dark and funny drama, Carr explores the world between living and dying, as Woman on her deathbed, looks back on a life half lived and faces the ghosts of her past.
The superb cast includes Geraldine Plunkett, Mark O’Regan, Noelle Browne and Joan Sheehy as Woman.
“It’s very irreverent. It’s about death but it’s funny. It takes a sideways look at death,” says Joan. “There is a great earthiness about it, but a mythical quality too,” she feels. “Marina is a countrywoman so that earthiness is important. That’s what I respond to.”
Joan describes the world of the play as “very recognisable, but also not, this being Marina”.
Offaly born Marina Carr is best known for her plays By the Bog of Cats, On Raftery’s Hill, The Mai, and Portia Coughlan, in which she weaves supernatural and mystical elements into her examination of troubled family lives.
This work, Woman and Scarecrow, was first performed by Fiona Shaw at London’s Royal Court in 2009.
Woman has had eight children during her thirty-year marriage to the Man, played by Mark O’Regan, but to him she is not so much a person as a mother and a wife. In her final hours, she battles with the figure of Scarecrow, who “is her alter-ego or soul or potential”, says Joan, and it is Scarecrow who forces Woman to examine her life.
“You get to see her life through her stories. There’s her husband and her aunt, Auntie Aah [Geraldine Plunkett], who has come from Connemara to lay her out . . . and to tell her all the wrong things she has done in her life. They are all raging at her for lying down and dying. It’s so poetic and earthy. At one moment she’s talking about Caravaggio and then Demis Roussos is playing.”
Woman and Scarecrow is directed by Geoff Gould, founder of Ballydehob based Blood in the Alley Theatre, the company behind West Cork’s Fit-up Festival, which is now in its fourth year.
That has become a really exciting and important festival, especially for new work, says Joan.
Blood in the Alley’s main ethos is to produce new or contemporary work, and last year the group presented Woman and Scarecrow for seven nights in West Cork, after which Geoff successfully applied for a touring grant.
In last year’s production Bríd Ní Neachtain played Scarecrow but was unavailable for this revival, so the part has been taken by Noelle Browne. Otherwise, it’s the same cast and they had a two-week rehearsal period, with their newest member.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.