Sillan Players of Shercock are set to take on the best of the best in Irish amateur drama as they head to Carnew, Wicklow to contest the All Ireland final. The Sillan's production of Michael Harding's Una Pooka dominated the drama festival circuit, winning six out of its eight qualifying festivals and collecting a range of awards for acting, setting, lighting and direction along the way.
The story of Una Pooka revolves around a rural family's journey to Dublin to be part of the Pope's visit to Ireland in 1979. The director, Paddy Farrell, says it is a very engaging piece of work:
“People probably know Michael most for his literary efforts and his acting, but this is a fine example of his skill as a playwright. It's something very different. While there is humour in it, there is also a very dark side to the play.”
Describing the show as non-linear Paddy remarked that although the the story of Una Pooka is set in 1979 it remains relevant today. Una Pooka was staged by The Abbey theatre in 1993. A quarter of a century later the moral tone of society has shifted somewhat casting a different hue on the work.
“The people of Ireland thought everything would be different after the Pope came, however the day after they got back to their lives and things continued on. It's a black comedy that changes course. The Pooka Man appears and drives the heroine of the show, Una, to despair. We even get a glimpse inside Una's head as she speculates on the death of her brother and whether it was a suicide.”
The director says the work has a contemporary relevance: “It is a very well written play with loads of twists and turns in it. Many of the reviews back of the '93 production took a very conventional line. At the time society was quite conservative and adopting a confrontational line about the church or discussing mental health was breaking taboos. I think these issues can be discussed more openly now.”
The lead roles are played by Conor Shaffrey and Yvonne Seymour, and they have support from Aidan (David Clarke), Nuala (Julie Halpin), Una (Yvonne Seymour), Liam (Shane Fox), Mrs Kevitt (Audrey Gaughan), Angelo & Fr Simeon (Conor Shaffery), Priest (Thomas Lyden) and Doctor (Fra McPhillips).
For a chance to see story of Una Pooka prior to the All Ireland showdown you can head to St Patrick’s Hall Shercock on Sunday, April 15 and Tuesday, April 17 at 8pm. Admission: €12 &€7 tickets available at the door.