independent

Sunday 21 July 2019

Michelle on tour with 'The Scourge'

Michelle Dooley Mahon
Michelle Dooley Mahon

Maria Pepper

The Wexford writer Michelle Dooley Mahon has recently returned from a tour of her one woman show 'The Scourge', the self-penned autobiographical piece adapted from her debut novel 'Scourged'.

The response to the show outside of Wexford where it enjoyed a sell-out run of nine standing ovation performances last Easter and further successful airings during the Opera Festival was 'overwhelming', according to a delighted Dooley Mahon who was directed by the acclaimed Ben Barnes, formerly of the Abbey Theatre, and stage managed by Colin Murphy.

'The Scourge' was originally commissioned and produced by Elizabeth Whyte, Executive Director of Wexford Arts Centre which hosted the première and the show was supported in its initial run by the Arts Council and Wexford County Council.

Dooley Mahon uses a doll with surprising effect on stage to represent and portray the silence and vulnerability of her late mother Siobhan's descent into depths of Alzheimers and the impact it has on the family.

'I found the doll in the middle of a road outside Carlow town when I had prayed for angelic assistance to write the play', she said.

'She was the image of my mother and Carlow was her homeplace. I felt she landed in my lap like a gift from Heaven.'

The doll who is called Vonnie Dooley (in memory of Siobhan) was the key to the play, demonstrating the horror that mere words could not conjure, she said.

The Sunday Times featured the bi-polar author and The Scourge' (part of the First Fortnight European Mental Health Festival programme) among its 'Best of What's On This Week', with critic Fiona Charleton writing: 'Anyone who has helped steer elderly parents through the Irish healthcare system will identify with Michelle Dooley Mahon's deeply personal one-woman show'.

'Mahon's lyrical dialogue is delivered in a rapid fire style, reflecting the overwhelming nature of her story. The inclusion of songs and humour wonderfully puncture the intensity however, and what shines through is the warmth and love between mother and daughter.'

The Wexford woman performed to applause at the Civic Theatre in Dublin, An Grianán in Donegal and the Theatre Royal in Waterford, finishing at the George Bernard Shaw Theatre @Visual in her mother's home town of Carlow where the receptive audience included members of the extended Dooley family.

Gorey Guardian

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