An Irish version of an acclaimed play with an all-female cast opens in An Taibhdhearc this week, featuring TV stars Charlotte Bradley (An Brontannas), Tara Breathnach (A Nightingale Falling, Anne Boleyn), Fionnuala Ní Fhlatharta (Ros na Rún), Bairbre Ní Chaoimh and Mímí Carroll (Eipic).
‘Cinneadh na Circe’ is a translation of ‘The Hen Night Epiphany’ by Jimmy Murphy, a play about five women on a hen night in the hills of Connemara. But it’s not all roses in the bride-to-be’s garden and the women’s friendship is sorely tested.
Now, some of you may be thinking that your Irish isn’t great so you wouldn’t be able to follow the play. Fear not, as Anne McCabe, Artistic Director of An Taibhdhearc, explains the show features surtitles to give a little help to those who may need it.
“My motto in the Taibhdhearc is, ‘Drámaí Gaeilge, oscailte do chach’. It means, ‘Drama in Irish, open to everyone’,” says Anne, explaining that surtitles are like subtitles, except they’re above the stage, similar to those used in opera.
“So what we’ve done is very simple. There’s just two lines of text, simply white on black, and a little blackboard over the stage so it’s not affecting your experience of the play but if you need the prompts and you need the translation you can still get the whole drama and the whole movement and the whole experience. A lot of people often come out saying, ‘My goodness, that’s far more Irish than I thought I had, I understood a lot of that!’” says Anne, adding that people tend to have Irish stored in their ‘hard drives’ from when they were at school so it all comes back to them.
The surtitles will not distract you from the play either, and it’s just as well because the set sounds as though it’s going to be spectacular, designed by Irish Times Theatre Award winning designer Dolores Lynn and featuring an abandoned house on the side of a mountain. It’s not just the stage that will enthral audiences, with the play described by Sabina Higgins as “one of the most important plays about women I’ve seen, with a serious theme at its core.”
Directed by Lara Campbell, the star-studded cast have put endless hours into exploring their characters. “I’m so impressed with their work rate. I’m particularly impressed with actors that take their job and their craft so seriously, that they really delve in to the depth of their characters, using improvisations and all sorts of things besides the text to get into character,” says Anne.
Anne explains that the play is an “experience of being in the company of five women up the mountainside which sounds like great craic! It’s very funny but it’s also very moving. It is a nod also to the whole Waking The Feminists movement.”
The movement stemmed from The Abbey Theatre’s ‘Waking the Nation’ 1916 programme, which featured just one play, out of ten, that was written by a woman. This sparked widespread debate and calls for equality for women in Irish theatre. And while ‘Cinneadh na Circe’ – which has a mostly all female cast and crew – isn’t written by a woman, “it’s for and about women”, says Anne, adding that the play is for men also, with Jimmy Murphy’s previous works including the acclaimed ‘The Kings of the Kilburn High Road’.
‘Cinneadh na Circe’ (The Hen Night Epiphany) runs at An Taibhdhearc on Middle Street, Buttermilk Lane in Galway from tonight, Wednesday 6 – Saturday 9 April. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased through www.antaibhdhearc.com or by calling 091-562024.