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Local talent presents ‘Molly Sweeney’

Donal Kavanagh, Kieran Kelly, Jean Curran and the Director Sean McCormack. Photo: David Faughnan.

AN Grianán Theatre, Letterkenny is continuing its ongoing engagement with the works of Brian Friel by presenting his 1994 play Molly Sweeney.

One of his most recent works, ‘Molly Sweeney’ tells the story of a masseuse in Ballybeg who, having been blind since she was 10 month old, has her sight restored at the age of 41.

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Friel was inspired by a case study presented by neurosurgeon Oliver Sacks in the essay “To See But Not See”, the story of ‘Virgil’, a 50-year-old man in Oklahoma who had his sight restored after a lifetime of blindness.

However, while initially a triumph of surgery, the account soon recounts the huge problems faced by Virgil, and the challenges of learning to see. Sacks’ essay first appeared in The New Yorker in 1993, and Molly Sweeney was published a year later.

The play is presented as a series of monologues delivered by Molly herself, her husband Frank and her ophthalmologist Mr Rice.

Molly herself is probably the best adjusted of the three of them before the operations, and we are told she agrees to the surgery to please Frank rather than herself.

However, as the pitfalls and challenges of her new world emerge, will Molly realise too late that her gain could be offset by a much greater loss?

This production brings together an experienced team, both on and off the stage. Jean Curran, a veteran of the stage in Letterkenny, plays Molly.

A wonderful talent with impeccable timing, Jean has acted in a number of Brian Friel’s works in the past, including Faith Healer in 2010, and most recently, last years An Grianan production of ‘Afterplay’.

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Frank is brought to life by Kieran Kelly, one of the North West’s finest actors, who already has a CV most professionals would die for.

For the past two years, Kieran has been criss-crossing the country saving the world as Richard Hannay in the Letterkenny Music and Drama Group’s production of ‘The 39 Steps’, winning dozens of trophies and the admiration of thousands along the way. He too was in Faith Healer, and numerous other productions from Shakespeare to panto.

Donal Kavanagh plays Mr Rice. A regular with Letterkenny Musical Society, Donal also performed with North West Opera in last months production of ‘Die Fledermaus’, and regularly presents spoken word pieces at An Grianan’s Crash Cabaret.

His first foray into drama since college was opposite Jean in last year’s production of ‘Afterplay’, in which he played Andre.

The Director is Sean McCormack, a legend in dramatic circles in the North West and further afield. His enthusiasm is undiminished, and his grasp of the subtleties of Friel’s work was evident in ‘Faith Healer’ and ‘Afterplay’, both of which he directed.

He has also continued to act, most recently playing Uncle George in last year’s An Grianan production of ‘Aristocrats’.

Added to this mix is the combined skill and expertise of An Grianan’s in house team, particularly Technical Manager Niall Craney, who is responsible for the set and lighting design for this performance.

Molly Sweeney runs for two nights, Thursday November 22nd and Friday November 23rd. Tickets are available at the An Grianan Theatre box office at 074 91 20777, and at www.angrianan.com

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