AN AGEING owner of an antique shop sits astride the tumble down remains of a life's work...this is the setting for Burn The Bad Lamp, a play adapted from the short story by Kevin Barry.
First performed during this year’s Cúirt where it sold out nine performances, the show returns to the Town Hall Studio from Tuesday September 28 to Saturday October 2 at 7.30pm nightly.
The setting immediately captures the audience, who are then led into this “rag and bone shop of the heart”. A lamp, a genie, and a shaft of magic appear, and a fairy tale for adults is spun.
Challenging our cynicism, it leaves the audience feeling good about life and where they are going. The production is based around an innovative theatrical conceit - a live actor interacts with a range of characters in the form of vividly realised puppets by Matthew Guinnane.
The show features Rod Goodall, founder member of Footsbarn Theatre Company and former artistic director of Macnas while the puppetteering duties are by Aine Ní Dhroighneáin, of Ros na Rún fame.
The playwright, Kevin Barry, is rapidly making a name for himself. His first collection of short stories, There Are Little Kingdoms, was published in 2007 and was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, along with being named a book-of-the-year in The Irish Times. His stage adaptation of three other stories from this book have been produced to acclaim by Meridian Theatre in Cork and by the Keegan Theatre in Washington DC.
Over an afternoon coffee, Rod Goodall disclosed how the impetus for doing the show came about.
“It started when Jane Talbot showed me Kevin’s book and particularly exhorted me to read Burn The Bad Lamp,” he says. “As soon as I read it I thought immediately ‘Yeah this is a show’ and the part of Ralph Coughlan, the antique dealer, appealed to me.
“Then myself and Kevin spent a few months adapting it, and adding bits in because the initial story was too short. With the introduction of puppets it really took off as a concept for the show and I was lucky Aine Ní Droighneain, who’s a talented performer and skilled puppeteer, was able to come on board.”
Goodall goes on to describe the play’s central character, antique-dealer Ralph Coughlan.
“He’s a downtrodden, nervous, man in his sixties who runs this dilapidated shop and never sells things,” he says, “but the experiences he has with the genie lifts him out of being that humdrum personality and gives him more ambitious ideas about life and realising how it could be more beautiful.”
Ralph’s dog-eared days are indeed magically transformed in this whimsically surreal and engaging drama. Go see!
Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777.