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Friday, January 6, 2017

In Context: The Beauty Queen of Leenane



Ireland’s esteemed theater company Druid makes its BAM debut with this 20th anniversary revival of Martin McDonagh’s Tony Award-winning pitch-black comedy and the first in a trilogy of plays set in the sodden Irish backwater of Leenane. Context is everything, so get closer to the production through our series of curated links, videos, and articles. After you've attended the show, let us know what you thought by posting in the comments below and on social media using #BeautyQueenofLeenane.

Program Notes
“I loved playing Maureen,” [Mullen] said. “I loved her hope. But I can only remember little bits of it now, because this has taken over. I find it harder and harder to remember Maureen being at the center of my world, as she was then. I was a different person. I was a younger woman.”

Article
Martin McDonagh Weighs In (BAM blog)
Illustrator Nathan Gelgud explores Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's thoughts on theater, music, literature, and more.

Article
A Very Leenane Glossary (BAM blog)
Navigate the production's Irish vocabulary with ease using this handy guide.

Article
Martin McDonagh interview: ‘Theatre is never going to be edgy in the way I want it to be’ (The Guardian)
An in-depth profile of McDonagh from last year that touches on his uneasy relationship to filmmaking, his status as an “actor’s playwright,” and the intense 10-month period between 1994 and 1995 that birthed all of his early plays.

Article
Garry Hynes is bringing back Martin McDonagh’s The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Irish Examiner)
“If I had a shilling for every time somebody came up to me and said, ‘how the hell did this guy know so well what my mother-daughter relationship is like’, well, I’d be a very rich person today.” —Director Garry Hynes, speaking about Martin McDonagh in the Irish Examiner.

Article
Marie Mullen in 'Beauty Queen of Leenane': Daughter and mother, victim and villain (LA Times)
An interview with Marie Mullen on her history with the play, first playing the daughter, Maureen, and returning to it in the role of her mother, Mag.

Watch & Listen

Video
The cast of The Beauty Queen of Leenane on The Rosie O'Donnell Show (YouTube)
The original cast of Beauty Queen appears on The Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1998 to talk about their unprecedented Tony nominations.

Video
Theater Talk: Garry Hynes and Marie Mullen on "The Cripple of Inishmaan" (YouTube)
Gary Hynes and Marie Mullen appear on Theater Talk in 2011 to talk the origins of Druid, their work as female theater makers, and their revival of McDonagh’s Cripple of Inishmaan.

Now your turn...

What did you think? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below and on social media using #BeautyQueenofLeenane.

30 comments:

  1. Exceptional performance. Quite funny, yet very harsh at the same time. Quite an accomplishment.

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  2. This was my third time seeing this play and it didn't disappoint.
    Marie Mullen is a fabulous actress, and I consider myself lucky to have seen her play both the daughter and the mother. The play and the cast are first rate.

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  3. "Lieutenant" and "Cripple" are among my favorite plays, and "Beauty Queen" did not disappoint.
    I wish that I had sprung for an Orchestra seat closer to the stage, however, because the Irish brogue was often difficult to discern from the rear of the orchestra.

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    1. Agreed. Very difficult to make out what was being said. Sad, I know I missed quite a bit.

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    2. Agreed. Very difficult to make out what was being said. Sad, I know I missed quite a bit.

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  5. There was a standing ovation for great performances by all four actors. It's a funny and brutal piece of work. I like the way it investigates mental illness without labelling. There were many laughs and gasps from the audience and no tears. The Liverpool tracksuit top made me chuckle.

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  6. Superb cast. Superb play. Very disturbing, but somehow reflective of a normal life.

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  7. Saw the 1/15/17 production which lived up to my memories of how superb the play was when I first saw it in 1998. My recollection was that the direction was different in 1998 and the mother opening the letter was not a foregone conclusion. Victor Garber was in the audience - he starred in Art which beat out Beauty Queen for Best Play in 1998.

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  8. One of my favorite plays - so glad that this original production returned so that I could bring friends who didn't see it in 1998 - so eerie to see Marie Mullen graduate into the role of mother (considering the nature of the story) - highly recommended for all who love excellent theatre!

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  9. Great play. But your balcony "seats" are impossibly cramped, even for a short person like myself. Standing would have been more comfortable. We would have left at intermission if we had not found empty orchestra seats.

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  10. Saw Marie as Maureen when it was at the Atlantic with my dear friend Tom (RIP) in it. What a treat to come back and see Marie as Maggie. Stellar performances all round. Touching and sad and darkly affecting. Don't miss it!

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  11. Advertised as a Dark Comedy, I must say it was mostly dark. Although dark, it was still well performed and the parts that were comedy were funny. Unfortunately, our seat location didn't lend itself to the facial expressions offered by the actors, which added a great deal to the performance, Im certain. Unfortunately, it was very difficult at times to hear, and to understand what was being said on stage from our vantage point. Our seats were directly under a speaker so we thought that we weren't going to miss a word, unfortunately the speakers weren't used. However, got the gist of the play and enjoyed it just the same. Well performed. BRAVO! It was sold out the night we attended. That should say it all.

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  12. I think people who have walked those shoes can truly appreciate what went on, on that stage, tonight. It hit home. It was a brilliant performance.

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  13. This was excellent. The actors were remarkable--they were great physical/body actors
    from where I was in back orchestra, but when I took out the binoculars and watched them up close they were incredible. It's a very intense show--I had problems with the language, both the local dialect, words we don't use here, and the thick accents on top of that meant I only got about half of what they were saying. It was very musical language and beautiful to listen to aside from content. Loved this, can't wait to see more of this author's work.

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  14. I had seem the 1998 production and had forgotten how blisteringly funny the play is. This production seemed more open, more hopeful, until it isn't. Perhaps the letter from Pato to Maureen is the most poignant point in the play. We are seeing and hearing the diminished lives of a dispossessed people and the continuing agony they endured.

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  15. I barely breathed as this alternately dark and hilarious play come to its inevitable conclusion. It was a strange but very authentic experience to be laughing so much, and then to feel horrified at the same time. Life is complex like that, and this play evokes that complexity. Every single one of the cast members delivered incredible performances. I haven't stopped thinking about it. It was one of the finest evenings of theater I have ever experienced.

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  16. Brilliant cast, brilliant performances all around, brilliant lighting set and sound design. I agree with the others about the "brogue," took me a while for my ears to adjust, and I ended up missing 50% anyway. However, if you have read the play, and are familiar with the stage directions and text, I must say the director missed a lot of what I believe the author intended; He also added some "stage business" that is not in the script, that was unnecessary, had no point, and I thought detracted from the brilliance of McDonagh.

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  17. Hard to evaluate as I probably understood a third or less even with the hearing assist device. Especially the rants between mother and daughter. A play like this really needs illuminated sub-titles. BAM Fan January 22, 2017



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  18. Wonderful couple of hours! A beautifully told tale about the stuckness of life in rural Ireland. Loved the set and particularly the rain effect. At first, accents were hard to understand. However, this was not an insurmountable problem after ears got used to it. Aisling O’Sullivan does a terrific job as Maureen. At first in control she, slowly, loses it to become the next generation “Beauty Queen of Leenane.”
    Wow. Impactful and fun (kudos to Aaron Monaghan as the hilarious Ray) all at the same time.

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  19. The play was excellent! It was moving, touching, funny and powerful.
    The actors were outstanding, every one of them. Go see it! The accents were difficult at first but we got used to it.

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  20. Saw it at the Atlantic 20 years ago and was almost afraid to revisit. Still hits you in the gut.

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  21. We were in row K and it was very difficult to hear. The four of us agreed later we probably missed 50% of dialogue. It wasn't so much the accent/language, which is beautiful and one of the reasons I attend Irish plays, but the actual volume. It certainly detracted from our enjoyment of the play.

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  22. Add my name to the list of those who couldn't understand the dialogue and I have been to Ireland six times. As I recall, the 1998 play at Atlantic was better, smaller stage, smaller theater, made for more tension. All in all, an enjoyable evening but being enjoyable is not what this play is about.

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  23. For maybe the first minute I wondered if the heavy brogue would be a problem and then totally forgot it and didn't miss a word. I was completely drawn into their world and blown away by the story and the acting. It was a perfect afternoon

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  24. Interesting how when the play was first produced, McDonagh was one of few masters of the "Black Comedy" genre. Television has perhaps jaded us a bit, and may explain why some critics find the current production gentler. With the shock absorbed we can now savor the wonderful subtlety of the writing and the acting. It remains a superb ensemble piece.

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  25. Wonderfully written. Wonderfully acted. But still a brutal look at how a parent's fear of loneliness becomes selfishness then becomes destruction.

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  26. Aisling O'Sullivan was brilliant. She manifests a remarkable range of feelings prompted by her character...of hope on the one side and despair on the other. She takes us with her on this journey from darkness into light, which then flickers, and could re-light up or go black at any moment. It is her way of navigating the whole range of emotions between these extremes that is so remarkable. We are with her every step of the way. And she's sexy! Brava!

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  27. My guests and I did not like it. Between the thick brogues and poor sound, we could not understand a good deal of the dialogue. While the ensemble did a very credible job, we felt the material was quite limiting--too little substance or flair to the writing to compensate for the misery of the subject matter. Could not recommend this play to anyone I know.

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