‘Nightmare on Elmwood Street’ premieres at Féile 2012

Elmwood Street. (0308SL17)
Elmwood Street. (0308SL17)

The premiere of Derry playwright Irene Melaugh’s new black comedy, ‘Nightmare on Elmwood Street’ is likely to be one of the drama highlights of Féile 2012.

The new play, which will be performed to raise funds for Derry charity, Action With Effect, which was founded by Irene’s brother, Eamonn.

It will be staged on Tuesday at the Gasyard Centre and all proceeds will go to the charity, which helps destitute children on the streets of India.

A black comedy, ‘Nightmare on Elmwood Street’ tells the story of a typical Derry man, Billy, who undergoes a strange, otherworldly experience during a visit to the dentist.

Explaining how she came to write the play, Ms Melaugh said; “One day I was visiting my brother Eamonn and he said he had a concept and asked me to write a play around it.

“Basically he told me of someone he knew who had been to the dentist and, while under the anaesthetic, had a dream where God and the Devil argue for and against his redemption. God says he’s not good enough for Heaven and the Devil says he’s not bad enough for Hell,” she said.

The playwright also said that despite the somewhat heavy premise, the work is “a black comedy but ultimately with a feel-good sentiment”.

“It is about a typical married man in Derry, his family and the antics he gets up to. His wife convinces him to go to the dentist because his teeth are rotten and while he is under the anaesthetic he has a vision.

“He is having a nightmare and dreaming about all the things he has done in his life, both good and bad. He is begging his case and the Devil argues why he should go to Hell and God does the same about why he should go to Heaven.

“It sounds deep and heavy but hopefully audiences will find it funny. It is filled with all sorts of hilarious antics that Billy and his friends have got up to in their lives.

“At one stage his mother comes from Heaven to plead for his soul and the story of her hard life is revealed. At another stage his best friend comes from hell and it transpires that he is there because he stole a lotto ticket from Billy.

“Billy’s life hasn’t been particularly good or bad but there have been incidents which could go either way for him. Like one instance is recalled where he tried to rescue a man from a burning building but ended up killing him by pushing him out a window so God and the Devil argue over that one.

“Another incident is brought up where Billy stole a gun from an IRA man to carry out a robbery but the gun is discovered and the IRA man’s fingerprints are found on it and he ends up going to jail.

“The play is filled with incidents like that. Ordinary events from this ordinary man’s life that have taken a slight turn here and there and take on a whole new character when they are used in the fight for his soul,” she said.

The cast of Nightmare on Elmwood Street include some of Derry’s finest theatre talent, and were also involved in Irene’s last production ‘The Dumped Divorcee’s Support Group’ which ran in the Millennium Forum earlier this year.

“Hopefully it will go down well and everyone will enjoy it.

“There is a great team of local actors involved including Bernadette McFarland, Lynn McCarron, Paul O’Doherty, Andrew Newton, Tommy Burke, and Amanda Frazer,” she said.

The Derry playwright also said she hopes the play will raise much-needed money for Action with Effect. “It is a great charity that does fantastic work with some of the world’s poorest children so hopefully we can raise lots of money to help them in their work,” she added.

The play will be part of the Gasyard Wall Féile, the nineteenth year of the festival which will be running from Sunday 4th to Wednesday 15th August.

Nightmare on Elmwood Street will be performed on Tuesday 7th August at the Gasyard Centre, Lecky Road, at 7.30pm.

Tickets will be available at the door of the Gasyard Centre on the night of the performance.

The play is for people aged 18 years-old and over and entry is £5 and all proceeds will go to the Action with Effect charity.