SUNDAY MORNING Coming Down, a new written and directed play by Michéal Donnellan, will be staged in the Town Hall Theatre studio from Tuesday March 29 to Saturday April 2 at 8.30pm.
A dark and bittersweet comedy, the play centres on the McGuires, a family struggling to deal with alcoholism and its attendant social pressures.
John and Chris are brothers but live very different lives. John has just returned from a six month teaching placement in Italy while Chris has remained at home and works in the slaughterhouse.
John is convinced he is only home for a week but Sharon, his ex-girlfriend, arrives back on the scene to set doubts in his mind. The walls begin to close as the date for his flight back looms ever closer. Chris is adamant to see his brother save himself and return to Italy, while Sharon wants him to stay.
The play, which takes its name from one of Kris Kristofferson’s finest songs, is set in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, the home town of writer/director Michéal Donnellan, but its inspiration came from time spent on the continent.
“I was living in Spain when I started writing it,” Michéal tells me. “It was my first time living abroad. When I came home for Christmas and it was strange seeing things through new eyes when I returned. I noticed things I hadn’t seen before. It is similar to John’s character in Sunday Morning Coming Down. When I got back, I started writing and the story just came.”
If the inspiration was ‘foreign’, the play itself is very much informed by a deep pride in the culture and personality of Mayo and its people.
“I wanted to write a play in the Mayo dialect,” says Michéal, “with all the nuances of our unique way of speaking in the west. When studying Spanish in Madrid, I realised there’s a poetry in the way people talk in Ireland. We have a visual way of describing things that’s not present in Europe. I tried to capture that here, in the same way that Brian Friel did for Donegal in Faith Healer and John B Keane for Kerry in The Field.”
Sunday Morning Coming Down first came to attention when it enjoyed a sold out public reading with Druid Theatre Company at the 2009 Galway Arts Festival.
“That was a great experience,” says Michéal. “I got work with world class professionals and learned an awful lot about the theatre world. Last January, I decided to apply all I've learned from my MA in writing at NUIG and working with Druid, and put the play on myself.
“I was lucky enough to get chatting with Mike Diskin in the Town Hall and he offered me the studio for five nights at the end of Match. They’re a great crowd in there. Lovely to work with. I’m in talks with a few other theatres around the country so we can maybe get on the road.”
Sunday Morning Coming Down will be staged by Truman Town Theatre, which Michéal established recently, and he is also looking to do an Irish language version of the play.
“Maybe the next step for Sunday Morning Coming Down is to get it translated into Irish,” he says. “It’s the type of play that would go down very well in Irish speaking communities.”
The cast features PJ Moore, Sean O’Maille, Theresa Leahy, Cathal Leonard, Niamh Shiggins, and Conor Geoghegan.
Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie