Review: Ardnaglass on the Air, Lyric Theatre Belfast

When love-starved pig farmer Hugh Francis O’Connell and day-dreaming barmaid Margaret Mary Rose O’Boyle sit down behind the microphones in Mickey Madden’s mother’s garage, broadcasting to the fictional community of Ardnaglass, Northern Ireland – you’d do well to tune in and listen for a spell.

Bringing you all the latest in mostly true news from their decidedly rural location, this pair nervously bumble their way through their live show as they await the arrival of BBC intern, Fabian Martinez – their ticket to bigger and better things.

What happens? Hilarity ensues in colourful language peppered with the smell of pig manure.

Partners in acting and life, Marty Maguire and Jo Donnelly are brilliant in their respective roles, playing off one another with perfect comedic timing. This pair of veteran Belfast actors were, no doubt, the ideal team to take on roles so well suited to their unique styles.thumbnail_Photo Post Performance2

The main characters, superbly brought to life by Maguire and Connelly, resulted in the actors facing a standing ovation at the end of their performance.

Even a slight mishap on stage was met with a lively nod to the nature of live radio shows that quickly turned what might have been a disaster on some stages to a hilarious improv blending it right back into this masterful slapstick rom-com.

The production was brilliantly directed by c21 Theatre Company’s own Stephen Kelly, who is no stranger to successful stage and screen productions. His experience in theatre is evident in the perfection of the play he has conducted so divinely.

Reworked by playwright Jimmy Kerr for the current showing, the play is sensationally entertaining with rich characters in which most of us will find a sense of familiarity.

His words are woven into an intricate fabric of comedy that is then cast over an audience held captive by their own laughter.

I had the pleasure of meeting both the director and the actors after the production and found them to be just as full of life and joy as the play itself.

It is no wonder that their creation was such a huge success. Kudos to the collective brilliance of all involved in this production. The Belfast collective that brought this play into being are masters of their craft, indeed.

The production is funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council for Northern Ireland and produced by Tom Finlay, a graduate of Belfast’s own Queen’s University and veteran of theatre.

Performances of Ardnaglass on the Air will continue at the Lyric Theatre through the 18th February and then continue on a tour of other venues. Details on future dates can be found on the play’s Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Be sure to catch this spectacularly funny show at a local showing very soon! Additional tour dates are below.

14th – 18th February Lyric Theatre, Belfast
22nd February Marketplace Theatre, Armagh
23rd February Craic Theatre, Coalisland
24th February The Courtyard and Theatre, Newtownabbey
25th February Cushendall Golf Club
28th February Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry
2nd March Roe Valley Arts Centre, Limavady
3rd March Island Arts Centre, Lisburn
4th March Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick
5th March Moneyglass Community Centre