The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Thursday, May 3, 2018
Performances: Tues 2- Sat 13 October 2018
Auditions: Tues 22 May 8pm Copley Room
(If you're not available that day but would like to audition please contact me on 01634 402598 to arrange another date).
The Beauty Queen of Leenane (pronouned: Lynnann) is widely regarded as one of the best plays of the last 30 years. Premiered in Ireland in 1996, when McDonagh was only 25, it transferred to the Royal Court Upstairs, then went to the West End, then to off-Broadway and finally to Broadway, catapulting its previously-unknown author into the big league. McDonagh is now a Hollywood director and, if you're a film buff, you've probably seen Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which he wrote, produced and directed - and which did well at the BAFTAs and Oscars this year.
THE PLOT: The title character is a virgin who's only ever kissed two men. Then one day a neighbour shyly admits he always thought of her as the beauty queen of Leenane - and the prospect of love and happiness opens up before her. There's just one problem: her awful old mother, who is terrified of being put in a home and determined to keep her daughter skivvying for her. The play rests on the conflict between these two strong women. Who will win? You may be surprised at the answer.
THE AUTHOR: McDonagh was born in London of Irish parents and lived there throughout his childhood. However he spent his holidays near Leenane, which is a small town in County Galway, Western Ireland. He apparently wrote The Beauty Queen of Leenane in just nine days, one day for each scene; he has described theatre as "a box to tell a story in" and this play was described by one critic as a mix of farce and melodrama. However it also has the unexpectedness of real life, with its many twists, four well-drawn characters, excellent dialogue, several highly-charged dramatic moments and a good deal of humour as well.
MAUREEN FOLAN (40) went to England to work as a young woman, had a nervous breakdown and was put in a mental institution, from which her mother rescued her, by promising to look after her. In fact, Maureen is looking after her mother - not very well - and is quite bossy with her, treating her like a child and punishing her for lying by making her eat lumpy Complan. Maureen herself isn't so much a liar as a fantasist; she's also insecure and, apart from the way she deals with her mother, lacking in self-confidence. In spite of all this, there seems to be some kind of bond between the two of them. A contradictory, complex personality.
MAG FOLAN (70) is a sly, selfish, wheedling, disgusting woman who will stop at nothing to prevent Maureen from having a partner. She behaves appallingly when a potential lover turns up: she taunts Maureen over her mental breakdown and has no qualms about lying. However, a subtlety is needed in the playing; sometimes she does tell the truth (and of course isn't believed) and can take rational decisions. She may not be especially bright, but she has common sense and a certain animal cunning.
PATO DOOLEY (about 40) is the man who has been in love with Maureen for years and failed - until now - to mention it. A shy, decent man with a sense of humour, he refuses to be put off by Mag's behaviour. The kind of person who might have done well, if he hadn't been born in a working-class town with few prospects.
RAY DOOLEY (20), a contrast to his brother Pato, is loud-mouthed and insensitive; he holds a grudge against Maureen over an incident in his childhood. Has some great lines and crucial scenes towards the end of the play.
Irish accents will be needed, but the actors will be helped by Barry Kearns, who will be the dialect coach.
The two men appear in only three each of the nine scenes and we will be arranging Pato rehearsals and Ray rehearsals during the summer, to avoid keeping the actors hanging around - until of course we start running the play in September.
Please ring me on 01634 402598 if you'd like to see a copy of the script.
Michael Bath, Director