EDGY COMEDY/DRAMA NEXT AT RON MASLIN PLAYHOUSE

by Jim Holmes
(note: this appears in local newspapers about November 4th, 2005)

Expect the unexpected when you see Kanata Theatre’s next show.

The title makes it sound like the sequel to Miss Congeniality, but The Beauty Queen of Leenane is anything but. Cruelly funny at the outset, the play soon becomes a study of the unthinking and more calculating violence of our times perpetrated in a town whose inhabitants are dislocated from themselves and their society.

The playwright, Martin McDonagh, handles these themes so deftly and with such comic flare that one is almost unaware of their underlying existence. McDonagh claims to have written the play in eight days, a boast borne out by the fast-paced dialogue and narrative. Here is a playwright of some self-assurance, who once remarked of his own work, “It’s brilliant, and if you don’t like it you’re wrong.”

McDonagh is uncompromising in his depiction of a claustrophobic environment from which his characters have not the intelligence or humility to escape. Brutality, violence and profanity are the only tools they have for expressing themselves. This makes for fascinating theatre for mature viewers but definitely not for young children.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane centres around a seventy-year-old woman, Mag and her daughter Maureen who live together in Leenane, a small town in Connemara, Galway. Their outwardly comic relationship conceals a darker side that only surfaces as the action unfolds. Maureen is desperately unhappy with her life and is searching for a way out of her meaningless existence. Enter her childhood friend, Pato and from there the plot storms forward to its startling conclusion.

McDonagh was born in London in 1970 of Irish parents. The Beauty Queen of Leenane premiered in 1995 and was an immediate success. A New York production of the play was nominated for six Tony Awards and won four. It was followed by A Skull in Connemara and The Lonesome West, the three plays now known as The Leenane Trilogy. In 1997 when The Leenane Trilogy was joined by The Cripple of Inishman McDonagh became the first playwright since William Shakespeare to have four plays simultaneously produced in London’s West End. He has since written The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Pillowman.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way (at Terry Fox), Kanata, Tuesday to Saturday November 15 to 26. Opening night features a complimentary champagne reception. Curtain is at 8 pm sharp. The playhouse is fully accessible with plenty of free parking. Tickets are $15.

Visit the website at kanatatheatre.com for more information. To reserve your seat call the Kanata Theatre Box Office at 831-4435.

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PLAY EXPLORES LINE BETWEEN COMEDY AND CRUELTY

by Jim Holmes
(note: this appears in local newspapers after November 11th, 2005)

Next week the lights go up on one of Kanata Theatre’s more daring choices.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane, by London-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, walks the line between comedy and cruelty because, in the words of the playwright, “ . . . one illuminates the other. . . you can see things more clearly through exaggeration than through reality.”

McDonagh’s London-Irish upbringing has nurtured a respect for Irish tradition and at the same time an irreverence for its enduring myths.

Director Gwen Knight and her experienced four person cast, Beverley Brooks, Susan Monaghan, Brett Kelly and Robert Davidson, will show audiences the bleakly comic village of Leenane, population 14, in the region of Connemara, County Galway, utterly isolated and connected to the world only by television and cinema.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane combines traditional story telling with savage, ironic humour to explode the myth of rural Ireland as a place of whimsical gaiety and folksy charm. It is wildly funny, deeply affecting and grotesquely macabre all at the same time.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane runs for two weeks in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way at 417 Exit, Terry Fox Drive, Tuesday to Saturday November 15 to 26. The Playhouse enjoys abundant free parking and is fully accessible. Opening night features a champagne reception. Curtain is at 8 pm sharp. Tickets are $15. Make sure you visit the user-friendly website at www.kanatatheatre.com for more information on Kanata Theatre’s season and call the KT Box Office at 831-4435 to reserve your seats.

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HIGHLY ACCLAIMED BLACK COMEDY OPENING SOON AT KANATA THEATRE

by Jenefer Haynes
(note: this appears in local newspapers about October 28th, 2005)

The young, award winning and prolific Irish playwright, Martin McDonagh, has a reputation for walking a fine line between comedy and cruelty. In McDonagh’s opinion, one illuminates the other. The Beauty Queen of Leenane is no exception to this rule. This powerful black comedy tells the age-old story of conflict between a mother and her daughter and is taken to extremes with much angst and great Irish humour.

One of Kanata Theatre’s most experienced directors, Gwen Knight, has carefully chosen an outstanding cast to perform in this edgy play. For a complete change of pace, Susan Monaghan - who many will remember in her role as Barbara in last season’s smash hit Caught in the Net - will play Mag the difficult and cranky 70-year-old mother to Maureen, played by Beverley Brooks. Brooks also appeared last season for Kanata Theatre in the Irish play, Dancing at Lughnasa. Kanata Theatre veteran actors Brett Kelly and Robert Davidson masterfully portray the dramatic characters of Ray and Pato.

Due to its mature content, this play will not appeal to the squeamish or faint of heart, and is definitely not suitable for children.

The Beauty Queen of Leenane runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way (at Terry Fox), Kanata, Tuesday to Saturday November 15 to 26. Opening night features a complimentary champagne reception. Curtain is at 8 pm sharp. The playhouse is fully accessible with plenty of free parking. Tickets are $15. Box Office opens November 1st. Weekdays 5 pm to 8 pm and Saturdays 10 am to noon.

Visit the website at kanatatheatre.com for more information. To reserve your seat call the Kanata Theatre Box Office at 831-4435.

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