‘The Trappe Family’ is an extremely funny, adult comedy – with a few dark twists – written by Leitrim’s multi-award-winning playwright, Seamus O’Rourke. Seamus is also a director and acts in his own touring one-man plays. After two major all Ireland tours in 2019, like most actors Covid cancelled 2020 for him.
Seamus has produced several books of poetry, and last year whilst in lockdown he created a book, CD and audio book of his wild life memoires.
Directed by Seán Byrne for a two-week season, this production was an instant sell-out. This hilarious two-and-a-half-hour event by Irish Theatre Players was presented at the Irish Club of WA, 61 Townshend Road, Subiaco, from April 8th to April 17th, with a matinée on Sunday, April 11th.
The Scene: Around 1985. The flat concrete roof of a garage workshop, in a small town in County Leitrim.
The Set: Faced with one of Perth’s smallest stages, which for years has been home to the same one room set as a permanent fixture, other than the occasional coat of paint. For this play George Boyd has produced one of his most innovative sets. Every square inch of the stage has been used. Along the left side (stage right) is a long low wall that overlooks the narrow main street of this village. Despite it now being June, an illuminated Christmas tree stands at the centre of the wall. At the stage rear is the gable end of the garage repair shop, and the red corrugated iron roof of the house. On the right, an extension that started some five years earlier is still only half finished. On the stage apron, under an iron roof is a sheltered corner, this is ‘Mammy’s stable’, a homage to Mary and Joseph’s stable.
In this set, George has produced several layers of depth to the set, giving a most spacious appearance. Very clever and most realistic concept.
Light and sound: Josie Hacking and John Woolrych have produced believable weather effects and of the hoon ‘traffic’ in the main street.
Stage manager: Good work by Marian Byrne.
The Trappe Family are gathered on the roof of their garage for their annual commemoration of ‘Daddy’. Mammy (Carmel Murphy) brings the family together each year to say a few prayers and tell ‘nice stories’ about their Dad. It seems Daddy was quite a character and well-liked by all.
After his death, the eldest son Joseph (Mark Tilly) was overlooked in the Will, the garage going to son Freddie (Brian O’Donovan) instead. Mammy is a cripple, who prays 24 hours a day; relying upon ‘The White Angel’ for her every need. Young Patrick (John McCarthy) may be considered the sad result of village inbreeding, but does he know more than the family think? The boys’ unmarried sister, Majella (Hazel Beirne) tries endlessly to keep peace in the home.
A year later many family truths come to light.
Brian O’Donovan, a County Westmeath lad, has been a strong Irish Theatre supporter for many shows. In this show he gave an outstanding performance as the intelligent brother, trying to find logic in the madness. His drunken routine was one of the best I have ever seen, staggering, slurred speech but with many little extras such as ducking to avoid imagined objects and people.
John McCarthy is normally a pub singer, and this was his first time acting on stage, yet his performance showed many well-observed and sensitive skills.
Delightful Hazel Beirne, a Roscommon colleen, has been in Perth for 8 years and was super as the poor spinster sister with nothing in her life than her sick mother and mad brothers.
Mark Tilly with only a few stage appearances, has already been nominated for an acting Finley. This play has given him a chance to prove his nomination was not just luck.
Carmel arrived from Wicklow thirty years ago and is now back on stage for her second major part. Carmel wallowed in the complex and devious mind of the matriarch.
Having to find the correct costumes for the characters and era, along with some unusual props kept Claire Wynne and Marian Byrne busy. The fine makeup was by Raychle.
The award-winning director Seán Byrne has been with the Irish Theatre Players for quarter of a century. Whilst on holiday in Ireland 14 years ago, Seán saw this powerful play and is now proud to present it for your entertainment. Although his cast is generally quite inexperienced or ‘out of practise’, thanks to Seán’s guidance and drive, their family chemistry, pace and teamwork were amazing. They really were a genuine family.
O’Rourke’s script is constructed with such ingenious skill, that incredibly the several dozen ‘F’ words did not seem too gratuitous, with most bringing a smile. We all know families like this.
After the removal of Covid restrictions and with tickets so much in demand, the production could have easily run for another week or two. Great to see The Irish Players back in great form and at full strength.