DRUID’S MICK Lally Theatre this week saw the unveiling of details of ThereisBear! Theatre Company’s No Show, written by Peter Shine, part of the FUEL: Druid’s Emerging Artist Residency.
Set around a showband competition in January 1970, on a dancehall stage, and accompanied by a live band, No Show is a gripping journey through a dazzling period of Irish pop history.
The showband era is at its height, and dozens of musical acts are travelling around the country, packing out the tiny ballrooms dotted all over Ireland. Two showband singers enter the Big Earl Showband Competition for the chance to play Las Vegas and break into the big time.
Tommy Clarke is a rock-bottom young riser with a lot of ambition. He’s short on experience, but he is dead sure he can win. Máire Walsh is the real deal, a genuine showband legend; but after years on the road, it looks like the limelight is fading. She has to move quickly or she will be left behind.
As the competition progresses, the back-stage rivalry mounts, and Tommy and Máire learn the lengths people will go to for fame and fortune. Lies, deception, sabotage - no trick is too dirty as these bands struggle for the top spot. Vegas glitters and the players grow desperate, and what began as a golden opportunity threatens to collapse into a hopeless shambles.
“It’s about showbands in competition and we see the story told from two perspectives, Tommy and Maire.” Thereisbear general manager Darragh O’Brien tells me. “In the beginning we see them arrive, in the middle we see the lengths they are willing to go to get over each other. Tommy is taken under the wing of an older man called Johnny, and during the course of the play we learn more about that relationship.”
No Show is punctuated with big showband numbers and bristles with the energy of a dancehall gig while telling the personal stories of the people who make the music. The powerful performers take us behind the scenes and show us the work it takes to stand out from the crowd.
Emergency: FUEL is an initiative developed by Druid in 2014 to support emerging artists in the West of Ireland. Druid offers the successful recipients the use of the Mick Lally Theatre for six weeks to rehearse and develop a show, including at least one full performance week. In addition Druid provides the company with resources, including a hot desk in its company office.
No Show runs at the Mick Lally theatre from Tuesday November 25 to Saturday 29 with previews on November 21, 22, and 24. For tickets contact the Town Hall Theatre on 091 - 569777 or see www.tht.ie