THEATRE LOVETT, one of Ireland’s most exciting companies for young and old alike, invite you into a world of radio waves, sorrowful partings, and hilarious slapstick comedy in Mr Foley, The Radio Operator which comes to the Town Hall Studio on Saturday February 1 for two afternoon performances.
The show is performed by Louis Lovett, Ireland’s most experienced and critically acclaimed actor for young audiences. Over the past 20 years Louis has worked with children of all ages and with many of our leading companies including The Abbey, TEAM, Rough Magic, Barabbas, and Macnas.
“He’s very charming, a loveable older gentleman,” Lovett says as he describes Jack Foley, the play’s protagonist. “He’s living in this room where he has his armchair and all his things around him. He is in his twilight years but he takes great pleasure in memory and he particularly enjoys remembering when he was a very young man and he joined the circus and fell in love with his wife-to-be, she was a circus bareback rider.
“We see him as he relives some of those moments from his early years and then he comes back to the present where he is maybe slightly troubled ‘Was that a real memory?’ that kind of thing is going on. The play is both comic and poignant.
“One of the lovely things for me performing the show is the juxtaposition between the present day old Jack Foley and the younger Jack Foley. We see an older man moving quite slowly and delicately around his little house in the present and then we see him as a young man and the flashbacks to the past are very physicalised.
“We see Jack with his father-in-law, who is the owner of the circus. I bring those characters to life as well. We see Jack meeting his father-in-law and the two of them really don’t get on well, so some of those scenes are very funny.”
I ask Louis where does the radio of the play’s title fit into the story?
“As the play progresses we begin to realise old Jack Foley is perhaps not fully in control of his memory,” he replies. “Then these very vivid images from his youth unexpectedly land into his present reality, in much the same way that with an old radio you could have static and crackle and then suddenly land on a station that would be crystal clear.
“I love those old-fashioned radios and Jack Foley has created this radio contraption which helps him remember moments from his past. If I say so myself it is a beautiful piece of work; it’s made up from an old gramophone, a very old radio, and a few other things I won’t disclose right now but it’s quite a fantastical creation. In Theatre Lovett we love to remind our younger audiences of, shall we say, sepia-tinted technology, and we hope they’ll be fascinated by this contraption Jack has created.”
Mr Foley was written by Frances Kay, in collaboration with the company. Louis outlines her attributes as a writer: “Frances has worked with us before; she wrote Feast Of Bones and A Man In Half which was our first play. What she brings is a wealth of experience, a) in terms of writing, and b) in terms of writing for children.
“She is fantastic to collaborate with so we have worked very much together on this show. We approached her with an idea and she could take that and go to places we never imagined. She then comes back to us with that and we can walk, dance, or tiptoe down whatever avenue she has opened for us. We’ve known her a long time, I actually first worked with her on The Morbegs on RTÉ which she also wrote.”
Louis concludes by stating how much he is relishing his imminent trip west.
“I’m delighted to be bringing the show to Galway because my grandmother, Eileen Lovett, lives there and she is 102 so I’m looking forward to seeing her when I get down,” he says. “I also have two aunts there, Aideen and Emer, and they have their tickets booked already for the show so it will be great to see them there.”
Mr Foley, the Radio Operator plays the Town Hall Studio on Saturday February 1 at 12.15pm and 2.15pm. Tickets are €8 from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie The show is suitable for children aged six and upwards.