Rehearsals are well advanced for the Athlone Little Theatre production of Big Maggie, one of John B Keane’s most popular plays. Paddy Martin has assembled a sterling cast for this show, which runs at the Little Theatre from November 1 to 7. His direction is particularly well rewarded with the work of stalwart Anne Hoey who plays Maggie, thundering out her words with precision and ease.
King of the one-liner, Keane has always added comic strength to his work and nowhere more so than this play written in 1969. Be prepared to laugh, and cry, as Big Maggie Polpin, the indomitable matriarch at the heart of this drama, gets to grips with her life after the death of her hard-drinking, womanising husband. Typically, money and land - and secret sex - are the forces driving most of the characters. Now that Maggie has buried her abusive husband, and the shop and farm are finally hers, she will brook no argument from anyone, not even her squabbling, self-serving grown-up children. This is the setting for what promises to be a funny, perceptive, and thought-provoking production.
Maggie's sharp and sparky eldest daughter, Katie, is played superbly by Mary Johnston, no stranger to the Little Theatre stage. Her meeker sister, Gert, is played by newcomer Maria Griffin from Galway. Paul Slevin and Dermot McManus, old hands at this stage, play Maggie’s sons Maurice and Mick. John McGlynn returns to the Little Theatre as the slickly charming commercial traveller, Teddy Heelin, and Byrne, the monumental sculptor and lacklustre suitor of Maggie, is in the safe hands of Clive Darling. Little Theatre supporters will be delighted to welcome back Brian Quigley and Bridget Turner in cameo roles. Chrissie Killian puts in a great turn as the hissing, spitting Mrs Madden, while her daughter, Mary, is played by local newcomer Mairead O’Connor.
The show runs for seven nights from Saturday November 1 with the first night’s proceeds going to the local charity office of Simon.
Missing from the photo are John McGlynn and Chrissie Killian.