Tuesday 20 February 2018

The Diary: Actors rock around the clock at Abbey

Pictured are (LtoR) Reeve Carney, of Penny Dreadful, Keith Duffy, Coronation Street, and Peter Coonan, of Love/Hate at rehearsals in the Peacock Theatre for The 24 Hour Plays. Photo: El Keegan
Pictured are (LtoR) Reeve Carney, of Penny Dreadful, Keith Duffy, Coronation Street, and Peter Coonan, of Love/Hate at rehearsals in the Peacock Theatre for The 24 Hour Plays. Photo: El Keegan

Kirsty Blake Knox and Bairbre Power

The clock was against them but a group of 37 stressed-out theatrical starlets, scriptwriters and directors made the seemingly impossible possible when they penned, rehearsed and staged six new plays all within a frantic 24 hours. No mean feat I think you'll agree.

The Abbey's annual fundraiser 'The 24 Hour Plays' always attracts a stellar cast, and this year was no different.

Love/Hate's Peter Coonan, Yasmine Akram (yer wan who snogged Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock), Caroline Morahan and Boyzone's Keith Duffy all traversed the boards of the theatre.

"This is Irish theatre's Super Bowl," David Kelly from Dublin Youth Theatre explained. "Think of it as a rite of passage for actors."

It was certainly a quick turnaround for Caroline Morahan, who had just finished her run in Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer the night before.

"I am feeling a little delicate," Caroline admitted. "And am flying out to L.A. first thing in the morning so have no idea when I will pack but I couldn't say no".

John Butler, who wrote hit comedy The Stag, and Roise Goan were amongst the team of playwrights scribbling away late into the night.

The plays were eclectic to say the least; filled with lesbian trysts, flimsy y-fronts, downward-facing dogs and some vintage Madonna tracks.

As if that wasn't enough excitement, wonderfully whiskered musician Jerry Fish played a handful of tunes including Daniel Johnson's Story of an Artist. How apt.

I shouldn't pick a favourite play but I will anyway. Heritage directed by Ronan Phelan (who, FYI, is very much on the up and has fantastic taste in overcoats) was an absolute riot.

Petite actress Simone Kirby stole the show as a wanton leading lady. It's shaping up to be a busy year for the Peaky Binders actress who will next appear in the sequel to Tim Burton's 2010 flick Alice in Wonderland alongside Johnny Depp. Simone will play the Mad Hatter's even madder mother.

Across the river, Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic musical Jesus Christ Superstar was opening at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.

Petite ingénue Charlene McKenna was enjoying some downtime before she heads off to Africa to continue filming biblical HBO series A.D.

"It spans a huge period of time so filming has been an experience," she laughed. "But a wonderful one."

Charlene will head over to New York once filming is in the can to perform in the Broadway production of Ibsen's Ghosts.

My favourite broadcaster Marty Whelan arrived with his daughter while Old Uncle Gaybo chatted about his interview with Stephen Fry and appearing on Ray D'Arcy's maiden radio show.

"I'm helping him find all the right buttons to press," Gay said.

Fair City's Aoibhinn McCaul trotted into the foyer with Aoibhin Garrihy by her side but the two actresses were completely overshadowed by the former doyenne of RTE's newsroom Anne Doyle.

"I'm not stopping," Anne said as she waltzed through the doors. "I don't want to miss the start of another show." I don't blame her.

- KBK

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