Wilde and Sexy Chekhov

Ben Scheck and Faye Maughan in a scene from An Ideal Husband. Picture: Mandy Gasson
Ben Scheck and Faye Maughan in a scene from An Ideal Husband. Picture: Mandy Gasson

By David Hennessy

Charm Offensive, the theatre company of award-winning Armagh director Gavin McAlinden returned to Theatro Technis with three new productions. The company performed a new adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband along with Three Sisters and the Seagull by Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov.

An Ideal Husband

4 stars

Particularly relevant ahead of an election, Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband tells the story of Sir Robert Chiltern, a politician whose reputation comes under threat from a woman who happens to know how he made his fortune. It is in the eyes of his wife that Sir Robert dreads being exposed most and this is a theme throughout the play, why people love each other and if a marriage is based on lies, can it survive?

It is his friend Lord Goring that gives Sir Robert the most useful perspective. Lord Goring, who enjoys a leisurely lifestyle and no romantic ties, can look at things in a unique and detached way. Ben Scheck, most probably the first black actor to play the part, steals the show as Lord Goring. Played with charisma, it is Goring that gets many of the laughs.

Natalie Rachel Plunga plays calculating blackmailer Mrs Cheevley with almost chilling mischievousness.

Neil Kelly provides a calm centre as Sir Robert. Although his world is falling apart, Kelly plays Sir Robert with a quiet dignity.

Although she features little, Faye Maughan lights up the stage.

There is also an interesting new take on the part of Lady Basildon, played by Sandra Daroy with the resignation of a drug addict.

Reetta Hyyrylainen, Amber Mun and Roisin Keogh in Three Sisters. Picture: Mandy Gasson
Reetta Hyyrylainen, Amber Mun and Roisin Keogh in Three Sisters. Picture: Mandy Gasson

Three Sisters

5 stars

Three Sisters by Chekhov is the story of three siblings reaching the end of their tether, with work in the case of Reetta and Irina and with marriage in the case of Masha.

Roisin Keogh, with family in Carlow and Kilkenny, plays the younger sister Irina with a youthful enthusiasm and innocence that turns into a heavy burden when the threats of a bully put another man’s life in her hands.

Amber Mun is compelling to watch as Masha, drawing the eye even when other characters are speaking for her reactions.

The third sister is played by Reeta Hyyryläinen and it is easy to see that taking on a role like that of mother to her other siblings has made her old before her time.

McAlinden’s Three Sisters has a modern feel to it with the use of soldiers carrying AK 47s and the sexed up role of nurse Anfina, played by Isabel Alonso, which both delighted audiences who might have expected a stuffy production of Russian literature and found something much more racy and cool.

Justin Murray also presented a new adaptation of The Seagull.

Cast for the shows was taken from Gavin McAlinden’s acting gym where actors can meet to flex their acting muscles to stay sharp between auditions. Previous productions include The Playboy of the Western World at The Corrib Rest, starring Adam Henderson-Scott who has since landed a role in War Horse and Uncle Vanya, starring Becca Van Cleave who has since been cast in the new series of Game of Thrones.

Anyone interested in the acting gym can contact Gavin by emailing gavinmcalinden@yahoo.com.

For more information on Charm Offensive, you can go to: http://www.charmoffensive.org.uk/.


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