A Skull In Connemara could be described as a black comedy but it’s light as it races along, it’s full of laughter, the characters each have their own take on life but they are adept at picking up the wrong end of the stick so we the audience have total interest in what’s going on and absorbed in the ‘who done it’ – if indeed anyone did it.
The set, lighting, sound – the wind outside the cottage brought a chill to the bones – were all perfectly coordinated.
First of all the set is ingenious, we have the interior of Mick Dowd’s (Garrett Keogh) cottage which transforms into a grave yard within seconds. Mick is hired each autumn to disinter the bones in certain sections of the local cemetery in order to make way for new occupants. He’s preparing the night before when his neighbour Mary Johnny Rafferty (Maria McDermottroe) calls. Their conversation is only hilarious, as Mick puts it, ‘she witters on like a feckin‘ oul hen.’ Then there’s Mairtin Hanlon (Jarlath Tivnan) a local lad who’s keen to help. In the grave yard the digging begins but when Mick hears he’s to dig up his late wife’s bones he insists the local asthmatic policeman, Garda Thomas Hanlon (Patrick Ryan) be present just in case there is any trouble. And trouble there is as the story unfolds.
Three are seasoned actors but for Jarlath Tivnan at 23 years of age, this is his first professional role and he is tremendous. This young man obviously loves the stage although after Tuesday’s opening night he confided he didn’t remember much about the performance, he was so into the part he became Mairtin and remained in character until the applause died after a second curtain call. Garret Keogh mentioned that this is a happy company and it shows, they are like hands in well fitting gloves, the timing between them smooth and we feel relaxed in those professional hands.
And we the audience got a thumbs up from Maria McDermottroe who told me the cast knew for their first entrance that we were ‘a good house’ – in this case that was easy.
Lyric Theatre until Sunday 16th March 2014
Lyric Box Office (028) 90 381081
Check all Anne Hailes Belfast Times reviews here.