Drama Festival promises laughs galore

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Nine top amateur drama groups are coming to town for the North West’s oldest and foremost community drama event. From the 7th-15th March the Waterside Theatre will be buzzing as theatre companies from all over Ireland gather for the 34th City of Derry Drama Festival. Apart from competing for local awards the groups will be seeking the endorsement of Adjudicator Mike Kaiser GODA for vital points on the route to the All-Ireland and Ulster Finals.

The festival gets off to a rousing start on Friday, 7th March with Cloonacool Players’ production of John B. Keane’s popular musical play ‘Many Young Men of Twenty’. This heart- wrenching tale of forced emigration is peppered with great laughs and great songs.

On Saturday, 8th Ulster title holders and winners of last year’s Overall Festival award, Prosperous Dramatic Society will have you clutching your sides with laughter in ‘Boeing Boeing’ at the antics of the hapless airline pilot whose philandering ways with not two, but three glamorous air hostesses, is threatened by a speedier airline schedule!

There is more hilarity from Holywood Players in ‘Bedroom Farce’ on Monday, 10th when four couples, three beds, pilchards on toast, self-assembly furniture and the illicit kiss or two, cause mayhem at a house warming.

There is gripping drama from Glenamaddy Players on Sun 9th with ‘Agnes of God’, the electrifying investigation into the circumstances that led to the death of a young nun’s new-born child. And Dundalk Players make a welcome return on the Saturday,15th with the tense and enthralling period thriller ‘The Winslow Boy’.

A barber’s shop is the setting for D.A.D.S. production of ‘On Such As We’ by Billy Roche on Wednesday.12th. There is more than a “short back and sides” in this heart-warming tale of the barber, an angry young artist, a recently laid off night porter, an orphan girl a bruiser, a widower and the beautiful Maeve! As Roche says, “It’s all about different kinds of love.”

It’s a very different love story on Thursday, 13th when Bradán Players stage Albee’s classic ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ Sparks fly when two university lecturers and their wives have a late evening tete-a-tete in what is often cited as the most “vicious” and at the same time “the deepest” love story in modern literature.

Former winners, Bangor Players will attempt to reclaim their title with an arresting production of ‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg’ on Friday, 14th. You will cry and laugh as this honest, challenging, touching, thought-provoking black comedy deals with the difficulties of coping with a severely handicapped child

However there is serious competition from former Ulster and All-Ireland champions, Letterkenny Music and Drama Group and audiences can expect a gripping multi-layered presentation of ‘The Chronicles of Long Kesh’. Lynch’s play focuses on the humanity of republican and loyalist inmates and their families. United as much by music as the armed struggles, the men, fight to survive.

Indeed seven of the nine competing groups are former award winners so this is likely to be a closely fought festival. Standards will be high!

Season Tickets £52.50 for nine productions (£42.50.conc.) are already in demand. Tickets cna be booked at the Waterside Theatre Box Office 028 7131-4000. Full programme details on www.cityofderrydramafesival.org The festival is supported by Derry City Council Grant Aid Programme.