March 2010 Production
Directed by Stewart Woodward
Set in the seaside town of Ireland’s Ballintra, it is Easter 1991 and McKeever, the local undertaker, is determined to stage a production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in the local Protestant church, which is closing down. The bunch of misfit characters who are to take part in this production, or for whose benefit it is, present a microcosm of insular small-town life, as the play moves from a bleak Good Friday to what may prove to be an even bleaker Easter Sunday. Around these facts Jim Nolan builds a funny, powerful, moving play in which each member of the motley cast searches for their own, private resurrection.
You will be forgiven for thinking ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ collides with ‘A Chorus of Disapproval’, having brushed the elbow of ‘Habeas Corpus’ !
McKeever - (Mark Waghorn) the local undertaker/mortician and director of the local drama group - to look middle-age
The glue which binds this play together, McKeever is erudite, quick-witted, funny, solemn, serene; able to be every inch the undertaker, yet largely not at home with this role which disguises his nervous, frenetic, somewhat visionary energy. He is also a deeply caring, loving individual whose relationship with Elizabeth is unresolved and a source of considerable angst to him. Must be able to express deep love and emotion.
Michael - (Sean Chalkwright) McKeever’s young helper and protégé - to look late teens
Known locally as ‘Mad-Mikey’ he has issues with authority, his peers, his father, his acceptance in the local community, and a suppressed love-interest in Bridget. He is perhaps a little slow but entirely well-meaning, and though treated gently by most of the other characters, Griffin uses Michael as a target for his nastiness.
Reverend John Langton - (Iain King) Rector of the local Protestant Church - to look late middle-age
His role with one and all in the community is strained as he helplessly witnesses the demise of his wife, his congregation, his church, his religious convictions and what he perceives to be his relationship with his daughter, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth - (Claire Sharp) Langton’s daughter - to look mid-twenties
She left the local community under something of a cloud some years before and has now returned. She has a difficult yet loving relationship with her father, and has remained in love with McKeever, though sees no future in it.
Bridget - (Tiffani Vinyard) to look late teens
A local girl who is infatuated with McKeever, and longs for him to truly notice her, as she does all in her power to impress him with her acting, and other, skills. She is a pleasant and well-meaning young woman, but has yet to realize that her dreams will only be fulfilled once she has broken free from the local town.
Griffin - (Terry Casserley) to look late middle-aged.
A man who appears somewhat shambolic and even humorous, yet is fuelled by self-loathing which he more than capably disguises as disgust for all those around him. At times nasty, conniving and vindictive, Griffin sells himself to the highest bidder. He has much to face up to in his private soul - but redemption awaits him if he can embrace it.
The dead body of Margaret Langton - the Rector’s wife
She has died of alcohol-related grief after years of pain and dissatisfaction with life since the departure of her daughter, Elizabeth. This character appears in two quite lengthy scenes, one lying on a trolley being embalmed, the second in her coffin, prepared for the final family viewing. Ideally, in terms of family characteristics, she and Elizabeth should look very alike.
The Crew - remember even if you are not interested in being in the play itself, there will be much to get involved in ‘behind the scenes’. As with all productions, a Festival Play requires a fairly large and committed team to get the show on the road, and your help and involvement will be greatly appreciated.
Performances: Thursday 4th, Friday 5th and Saturday 6th March 2010 at Bovingdon Memorial Hall
It is also our intention to take this play to local Drama Festivals. These include Hertford at the end of March, and Felixstowe and Thurrock in early and mid June.
Rehearsals: More than likely there will be three rehearsals a week during January and possibly four a week in February, though not all the Cast will be required at all the rehearsals.
From a review of a production of ‘Moonshine’ in 1998.
“No one can accuse the new crop of Irish playwrights of shying away from the big issues. Take, for example, 'Moonshine', a new play by Jim Nolan at the Irish Arts Center that is at heart a romantic comedy about death, burial and the Resurrection, taking place on Easter weekend in a small Irish village. Mr. Nolan offers a little something for everybody. There is a love triangle, a lapse of religious faith, a midlife crisis, a death in the family, just about everything except politics, which is unusual for contemporary Irish plays. At the center is McKeever, a mortician who is also the director of the local amateur theater group. As undertaker, McKeever has a propensity to put his foot in his mouth and has trouble getting the right body in the right grave. As stage director, his cast for a forthcoming production of ''A Midsummer Night's Dream'' stands at four actors to play the 22 roles and is dwindling fast. As 'Moonshine' opens, McKeever is paying a professional call on the Reverend Langton, the local Protestant minister, whose wife is dying. Langton's church is about to be closed because the congregation has fled to other parishes, and he finds his religious convictions have deserted him as well. Langton's daughter Elizabeth, estranged from her parents since she left the village five years earlier after an affair with McKeever, arrives from London for the funeral. McKeever, who has an unflagging belief in the redemptive power of the theatre, sets about to restore Langton's faith, regain the daughter's love, get the curtain up on his new production and bury Mrs. Langton in the village churchyard”.