independent

Sunday 22 July 2018

Michelle's performance will make you laugh and cry

Michelle Dooley Mahon
Michelle Dooley Mahon

Maria Pepper

Rehearsals are in full swing for Wexford Arts Centre's production of the world premiere of The Scourge, a one-woman play written and performed by the uniquely talented Michelle Dooley Mahon and directed by Ben Barnes.

The show running for eight nights from Thursday, March 29 to Saturday, April 7 recaptures Michelle's visits to her late mother Siobhan in a nursing home while she was suffering from Alzheimers Dementia or what the author calls 'death by a thousands cuts'.

Through her hilarious and moving memories, the audience is introduced to personalities, history and the nostalgic archive of an ordinary Irish family forced to become extraordinary in their quest to cope.

It shines a light on Siobhan's illness and moves through the changing stages of decline, describing the effect on the family and the morphing of The Scourge (Michelle) from wide-eyed child into enfant terrible to obese, depressed recluse and her re-emergence as creator of her one-woman shows Shellshock.

Adapted from her novel Scourged, the show is a beautiful rendition of a daughter returning a voice to a mother sadly silenced.

Wexford native Ben Barnes is a former director of the Gaiety Theatre and a former Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre . He is currently Director of the Theatre Royal in Waterford.

Best-selling Wexford author Eoin Colfer said of Scourged: 'It is that rare and wonderful creature, a book that is both entertaining and honest -like David Sedaris or Joan Didion before her, Dooley Mahon delves deep into the seam of the everyday, mining the ores of tragedy and comedy, shining a single headlamp as she digs, until the unsuspecting reader, laughed and cried out, is forced to go for a lie down'.

The play The Scourge was commissioned by Wexford Arts Centre with support from an Artlinks bursary and the production is supported by the Arts Council and Wexford County Council.

Michelle Dooley Mahon lives in her hometown of Wexford where she has been writing for many years. Her performance of 'The Haemorrhaging Humourist' from her blog 'Random Mayhem', about a clown who bleeds to death in a cabin on a cross channel ferry was greeted with hilarity at Cáca Milis Cabaret. She then wrote 'Before I Forget - a reference to her mother's Alzheimers which she documents in a way that is both harrowing and hilarious.

Michelle has been described as 'a female Flann O'Brien' and a 'philosophical wordsmith'.

She was awarded the Dylan Thomas Literary Residency in the Kultivera Institute in Sweden after she wrote and performed a show entitled 'Seas Suas' as Suas in the Sky and the Ground, Wexford, followed by 'You Couldn't Make It Up' at the Riverbank Hotel. Her show 'The Eff Word' was a sell-out on her 50th birthday in the Spiegeltent during Wexford Festival Opera' a few years ago.

She has performed in TED talks for the Alzheimers Society and has featured widely in radio interviews and podcasts. She won Best MC in the Diageo Wexford Festival Singing Pubs competition in 2016 and 2017.

Michelle lives in a tiny hoarder's paradise with her dogs and a 'wild blond child called Vonnie Dooley' (a doll with an identity all its own) where she writes Mindless workshops for the course she created to help overcome her manic depression and diabetes with meditation and visualisations.

She is currently finishing a new book about her lifelong, the late friend Frank Sinnott, the renowned Wexford character and music promoter, and is also editing a book of short stories for publication.

The Arts Centre is grateful to Wexford County Council for rehearsal space support at the National Opera House until March 21 when rehearsals begin in situ at the Cornmarket centre. Tickets can be purchased from the Arts centre box office or online at www.wexfordartscentre.ie

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