Lizzie’s a Darlin’

‘Lizzie’s a Darlin’’ is a hilarious look at rural Irish life over a 40-year period. This perfectly observed play was written by award winning local playwright and actor, Siobhán Wright.

The curtain goes up on this two-hour performance by the Irish Theatre Players at the Townsend Theatre within the Irish Club of WA, 61 Townshend Road in Subiaco. The shows are on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until 29th February. There is one matinée show at 2.00 pm on Sunday 23rd February.

The producers have decided to make the programme digital. The on-line version has the same well-designed appearance as the normal printed programme, so you may wish to make a print of your own before going to the theatre.

The Scene: All the action took part in the living room in a small family croft in the SW Irish countryside. 

The brief opening scene was 2020, the other scenes were about 1969.

The set: was designed and built by George Boyd and Liam Kirwan. The striking, well-researched room had a genuine feel of an old farm cottage. A cooking range stood in the corner with a chimney going up the wall. An Irish dresser with a display of crockery. Centre stage was an old oak table and chairs.

There was a fireplace with ‘burning’ logs and of course next to the fire is a small vintage, bentwood armchair and side table – where all Grandmas sit. On the mantlepiece were small statuettes of every Saint, each with their magical and unique purpose. A holy water font hung on the external doorframe. The whole room was adorned with religious memorabilia, vases, kettles and pans of the era. These props were provided by George Boyd, along with Stef Hayward and Máire (pronounced Moyah) McGinley who were responsible for the excellent costumes, ranging from the widow’s weeds, to the young farm lad’s outfit and the maid’s black dress and pinnie.

The hairstyles and wigs were delightful, thanks to Trainsmart WA.

The show was stage managed most efficiently by Michele Woods, who had obviously given each scene change a great deal of thought in advance. Not once did she hover around looking lost.

The simple but effective lighting was designed by John Spurling and smoothly operated by Josie Hacking and Nathan Holland

A young woman, Emma (Siobhán Rushe) clutches her pregnant tummy as she chats to her Grandmother (Marian Byrne). They are arranging the Gran’s Golden Wedding celebrations. The two stare at a 50 years old photo of the wedding; the Gran smiles as she recalls her wedding day.

We jump back decades earlier: the miserable matriarch, Nan (Siobhán Wright) sits in her fireside chair praying to the assorted saints who have just taken her son to Heaven. She shows very little genuine sadness, grief or concern for her daughter in law, Kitty (Denice Byrne) who is newly widowed and a destitute mother of two girls. Her daughters are 17 and 19, one is painfully shy, she is frumpy Brigid (Eve Kennedy); the other her redhaired vivacious Lizzie (Louise Moran) who enjoys life.

Kitty’s friend, Nora (Mary Carroll) calls with a bunch of flowers. She’s a local chatterbox who mentions young Peadar (Conor Rice), a farmer’s son who has lost his mother.

May I suggest to the playwright to be slightly careful about opening scene spoilers and perhaps tightening the script between Kitty and Nora’s first scene together? I am suggesting this as a friend, as Siobhán’s script is well above the standard of many other local offerings and could be most saleable on the theatrical literary market.

A warm welcome to the multi-talented Louise with this her first play for the company – quite a special gain.

I was amazed to read this was Eve’s first time on the stage, her total understanding of Brigid’s nervous personality, coupled with her shyness and total lack of any selfconfidence. Wonderful acting and beautifully directed.

In his last Perth appearance – he is off to Melbourne, that is over east somewhere – Conor’s whole demeanour and big grin as the local farmer was so typical of young farm hands.

Siobhán Wright writer and director wisely welcomed back Siobhán O’Gara as her co-director. O’Gara has won a couple of awards since her last play. Great team work on a wild family. There was a smile on my face throughout the play. Great fun, good ending.