Saturday 17 March 2018

'Lying Eyes' inspires new play

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Reporter

IT was a bizarre tale that gripped the nation and the endless fascination it generated will be reignited next week when a major new production based on the story of 'Lying Eyes' Sharon Collins makes its world premiere at The Black Box Theatre in Galway.

Collins, a divorced mother of two from Ennis, Co Clare, is appealing her conviction after she was jailed for six years in 2008 for hiring a hitman to kill her millionaire partner PJ Howard.

The case involved a sequence of events that had all the ingredients for a Hollywood thriller: a hitman, lethal poison, a fake marriage certificate and a contract to kill.

"When the Sharon Collins story was being told in court, getting more and melodramatic as the story came out, I remember thinking if I made this up, people would regard it as unbelievable or the plot of an American soap opera," Aodh O Domhnaill (60), writer of 'Idir an Da Shuil' or 'Right Between The Eyes', told the Irish Independent.

The story is of a young woman, Nuala Barret played by Siobhan O'Kelly, who moves in with wealthy builder Donie Ui Hara, played by Seamus Moran, and then decides she wants to get rid of him.

Although the names of Collins and Mr Howard are not used in the play, the story and the setting will be familiar to anyone who knows the case in which Collins was convicted of hiring a hitman over the internet to kill her multi-millionaire partner and his sons Niall and Robert.

It's a link reinforced by a press release for the play which asks: "Can happiness be bought? Where do you find justice when death is just a double-click away."

Playwright Aodh O Domhnaill has defended his use of the Collins case. "When Sharon Collins ended up in the courts and came into the public domain, it raised a lot of interesting questions that I want to explore in my play. What interested me mainly was, why someone in the west of Ireland decided to get rid of her partner that way? Presumably she had other options and, why, which I think is very melodramatic, would they go online to look for a professional contract killer?

"What I loved about the case was the fellow who was supposed to be the hitman turned out to be as big an eejit as the rest of them." O Domhnaill's play is set in a similar time and place to the Collins case.

'Right Between The Eyes' runs at The Blackbox Theatre, Galway from Tuesday, June 8 to Saturday June 12; and in Dublin at the New Theatre, Essex St East, Temple Bar, Dublin, from October 18 to October 23.

Irish Independent

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