Backstage Theatre Group (BTG) are back tonight (Wednesday) with their latest full-length production ‘Unforgiven’, which runs in Backstage Theatre until Saturday 12th March.
The show was officially launched last week in The Black Olive Restaurant, where the guest of honour was the play’s author, John McDwyer. All proceeds from tonight’s opening performance are being donated to the Longford branch of St Vincent de Paul.
The Leader spoke to the cast during final rehearsals, about the play, the characters and their experiences thus far.
Declan Neville, a BTG veteran who was last seen playing ‘The Bull McCabe’ in ‘The Field’, plays ‘PJ’, the eldest brother.
“PJ is a great character to play,” says Declan. “When we meet him, he is almost at his wits end. His father is dying and his brother, Seamie, refuses to make peace with him before he dies. The only thing keeping PJ going is that after his father dies, he plans to show Seamie the door, and set up home with his neighbour Mary. The only problem is that he hasn’t discussed these plans with Mary.”
Christine O’Brien, who plays Mary, is appearing in her second BTG full-length production, after her performance as ‘Maimie Flanagan’ in ‘The Field’.
“This is another challenge for me,” admits Christine, who has appeared in numerous productions with St Mel’s Musical Society. “Drama is completely different to musicals, and I feel like I am learning so much all the time. I am thoroughly enjoying the experience, and I really like the character of Mary. She is an independent woman, who is in a particular situation, mostly through choice.
“We learn a lot about her past, and when it comes to making decisions about the future, she knows what she wants and won’t settle for second-best.”
Peter Kilemade plays ‘Seamie’, the other brother who lives in the house. “Seamie is a fantastic creation,” says Peter. “Everyone calls him ‘Wan Word’ because he only speaks in sentences of one word.
“He made a vow twenty-five years ago, after an incident with his father, and he refuses to give in, even though his father is on his death bed. That takes incredible strength, or stubbornness, which is up to the audience to decide.”
Gerard Rafferty, who plays Eamon, is making his debut with BTG, after recently playing the part of the ‘Canon’ in The Canal Studio Production of ‘Philadelphia, Here I Come’.
“Backstage Theatre and the Canal Studio are amazing resources for drama in Longford, and I am enjoying every minute of working on this production,” declares Gerard.
“My character, Eamon, left the family home twenty-five years ago, after the incident, and hasn’t been back since. He’s not your typical emigrant, and has no time for ‘the green grass of home!’ But, coming back makes him face up to things that happened in the past, and what he left behind.”
‘Unforgiven’ is directed by Oliver Kenny, who also directed John McDwyer’s ‘Lovely Leitrim’ in 2008 as part of BTG’s twentieth anniversary celebrations.
‘Unforgiven’ runs in Backstage Theatre from Wed 9th – Sat 12th March 2011. Tickets priced at €15 and €12.50 are available from the theatre box office on (043) 33 47888; online at www.backstage.ie and from Farrell/Coy. All proceeds from Wednesday night’s performance are being donated to the Longford branch of St Vincent de Paul.