Dawn Players’ production of ‘I’ll Get My Man’ had audiences rolling in the aisles of Ballyduff National School’s new hall during a four night run which drew to a conclusion on Sunday night.
Directed by Parish Priest Michael O’Byrne, the romantic comedy’s central character is the wife-yearning Reverend Arthur Humphrey (Christian Hutchinson), who hopes to liberate himself from fussy sister Hariette (Brid Cotter).
Meanwhile, Arthur’s TV star nephew Peter (Darren Moynihan), anxious to avoid the advances of his female fans, seeks refuge in the Vicarage, with the results in this respect proving mixed – at best!
Star struck and offering more attention to Peter than a married woman ought to, the vicar’s housekeeper Mrs Carter, superbly portrayed by Eileen O’Leary, is the comedic glue which meshes this ensemble together.
With such a lively, laugh-filled script to work with, courtesy of Philip King’s pen, the nine-strong cast make the most of the giddy, occasionally flighty material on offer.
There’s two ways of judging the success or otherwise of any production: the mood of the audience and the body language of the performers.
Firstly, its opening night audience regularly dispensed belly-loads of laughter, due in no small part to not only the quality of the dialogue, but the timing of its delivery. In this respect, Hutchinson, O’Leary and Moynihan (in his Dawn Players debut) excelled.
Secondly, it was clear that the cast thoroughly entered into the spirit of King’s silly and at times, farcical brand of humour, which, despite its natural Englishness, doesn’t prove overtly Anglicised.
For example, despite being on stage for only a matter of minutes each, Miriam Daly (as Winifred-Barrington-Locke) and Joan Stephenson (as Josephine De Brissac) established performances one could instantly recall.
Both inhabited their vastly contrasting characters excellently, as did John Meskill (The Bishop of Lax) and Karen Power (Pixie Potter), despite the latter having a wafer-thin level of dialogue.
As the play moved towards its conclusion, and as the audience continued to chuckle loudly, one could sense just how much the cast were enjoying themselves.
And when you’ve got both those elements in place, then entertainment comes guaranteed.
Thanks to her measured, understated performance, Brid Cotter proved the ideal foil from which to wring every drop of humour from both Hutchinson and O’Leary’s characters, the latter providing the most memorable performance of the play.
She was riotously funny and produced the sort of over-the-top effort entirely in keeping with the spirit of both her character and this particular production.
As opening nights go, this was an excellent debut run. I heard only one dialogue prompt all show long and that in itself was barely audible, a quality not all prompters can be relied upon to possess.
Fr O’Byrne, not for the first time, has spoken about this time around being his last directorial tilt.
But something tells me the positive vibes circulating the parish currently in the wake of ‘I’ll Get My Man’ might have him reconsidering this come the initial preparations for the 2010 production.
The play’s new home in Ballyduff NS was well-received by the audience and is a credit to all who lobbied for its installation for many a year.
That we’ll also be entertained by Dawn Players on cold January nights for many a year to come goes without saying. More of the same, please!