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A Musical To My Ears

If there's music in a play, does that make it a musical? If that seems like hair-splitting, bear with me.

It's just that musicals are pretty silly, aren't they? One minute everybody's talking like normal people, the next, they've broken out in song and are leaping about the place. Sure, there are some good ones, but they're not known for balancing humour with darker moments.

The same cannot be said for the lads that intend to sail out on Coconut Raft next week. Sean Carpio, Bobby McGlynn and Bryan Quinn will be presenting their play at Project, and Quinn fills us in on the storyline.

"Coconut Raft is a dark comedy about three lads breaking out of prison in the 30s. As any of your readers who have ever tried to break out of prison will know, it's a pretty grim process," he says. "So what we do in our play is show you how grim a jail break was, and what awful things can happen along the way, and make the audience laugh their lungs out at it. Then we make them feel guilty for laughing at such incredible misfortune."

This sounds a nice change from frothy little pieces such as My Fair Lady or The Sound of Music. Their use of the tunes sounds nicely meta-theatrical to boot. "Sean is an amazing musician and Bobby is brilliant at writing lyrics," says Quinn. "In the play, the grim action cuts to a musical version of the play which was written by a cheesy, cheesy man -- played by Sean -- 20 years after the escape. He gets all of the actual details of the story wrong and that's mad funny too but also a bit sad."

There's a trailer on YouTube that you can check out; Quinn's tone is playful, but there's a nicely dark shading to the short piece that presumably pervades the play itself. While the lads may not take themselves too seriously, they take the work seriously, and it may prove to be this year's dark horse. Just don't expect some dude in a white mask to come swinging down from the ceiling ...

Coconut Raft runs in Project Arts Centre from March 23rd. See www.projectarts centre.ie for more information