Described by many as ‘Quentin Tarantino meets Edward Albee’, Martin McDonagh recaptures the violence, humour and darkness of the Ireland of his childhood in The Leenane Trilogy – a series of tales of smashed skulls, matricide and other carefully calibrated outrages for a limited season at fortyfivedownstairs from 28 May.
The series of flamboyantly gruesome dark comedies include: The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West are three plays with murders apiece, exploring a brutal, utterly unromantic small-town portrayal of Ireland derived from McDonagh’s own complicated relationship with his British and Irish cultural identity.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane portrays ancient, manipulative Mag (Noni Hazlehurst) and her virginal daughter, Maureen (Michala Banas), whose mutual loathing may be more durable than any love; A Skull in Connemara, Mick Dowd (Chris Bunworth) is hired to dig up the bones of his late wife in the town churchyard; and the brothers of The Lonesome West (Mark Diaco and James O’Connell) have no sooner buried their father than they are resuming the vicious and trivial quarrel that has been the chief focus of their lives.
The Leenane Trilogy has garnered many nominations and awards. The Beauty Queen of Leenane won Critic’s Circle Theatre and Drama Desk Awards and was nominated for Tony and Laurence Olivier Awards. A Skull in Connemara was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award and The Lonesome West was nominated for a Tony Award.
In one sense the plays are traditional, harking back to kitchen sink Irish realism of the 1950s in a world of frustrated spinsters, lonely bachelors and spoiled priests, but at the same time Martin McDonagh’s talented hand writes a playful banality into the mundane.
For an audience who can appreciate pungent comedy and clever dialogue, the three plays of The Leenane Trilogy can easily be viewed as stand alone pieces or be enjoyed in marathon form.
The Leenane Trilogy sees three directors lead three separate casts including some of Australia’s biggest names in stage and television in a very unique setting:
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
Director: Declan Eames (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Neighbours) Performers: Noni Hazlehurst (A Place to Call Home, City Homicide); Michala Banas (Upper Middle Bogan, Winners & Losers, McLeod’s Daughters); Linc Hasler (I Love You Too); and Dylan Watson (Unbroken Directed by Angelia Jolie; The Pacific)
A Skull in Connemara
Director: David Cameron (City Homicide, Stingers) Performers: Marg Downey (Fast Forward, Kath & Kim); Christopher Bunworth (Winners & Losers, Bed of Roses); Tom Barton (MTC/QTC’s Red) and Peter Reid
The Lonesome West
Director: John Banas (Writer Underbelly, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) Performers: Mark Diaco (Crime and Punishment, Vessel, City Homicide, Doctor Blake); Laura Maitland (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Yes, Prime Minister); James O’Connell (Neighbours, The Doctor Blake Mysteries); and Dean Cartmel (Underbelly Fat Tony & Co, Underground: The Julian Assange Story)
“The Leenane Trilogy has established Mr. McDonagh as the most wickedly funny, brilliantly abrasive young dramatist on either side of the Irish Sea” - The New York Times
The Leenane Trilogy
fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: 28 May – 15 June 2014
Bookings: (03) 9662 9966 or online at: www.fortyfivedownstairs.com
For more information and performance schedule, visit: www.kintheatrecollective.com for details.
Image: courtesy of the Kin Theatre Collective