Alone It Stands returns to Dublin stage 1 month ago

Alone It Stands returns to Dublin stage

"There is an isle, a bonnie isle... "

We are in the thick of Ireland's latest quest to claim Guinness Six Nations glory and 'tis the season for a couple of theatrical productions with a rugby bent.

The Mill Theatre in Dundrum is playing host to two shows that are tapping into the current surge in interest in the oval ball. This Wednesday sees the John Breen classic Alone It Stands brought to life, while Schmidt Happens features four theatrical readings from Ross O'Carroll-Kelly (AKA Paul Howard) is on Thursday, 27 February.

In the lead-up to Sunday's Triple Crown decider against England at Twickenham, John Breen's play about a plucky Munster side that beat the All Blacks at a jammed Thomond Park in 1978 should get fans revved up. Over the course of a mad-cap, riveting show, a myriad of lively characters - including key players from both teams, fans, children, relatives and even a dog - are portrayed by a cast of six.

Oran O'Rua, who is directing the Ballaly Players production, says rehearsals for the highly physical and engaging performance have been tipping along nicely. On the play's plot, he explains:

"We bring the audience to Thomond Park, Limerick, on 31 October 1978. The mighty New Zealand All Blacks, on an Irish tour, are taking on the none-too-mighty Munster team, but to everyone’s surprise, they are dragged into one hell of a game. It is a real piece of Irish sporting history that is tinged with tragedy."

Breen, says O'Rua, drew his inspiration for writing the play when he learned that one of the Munster player's father passed away during the famous victory over the All Blacks. Alone It Stands has been staged by various theatre groups across Ireland and has also been produced on London's West End and Off-Broadway in Manhattan.

The play runs from Wednesday 19 February to Saturday 22 February, the eve of Ireland's Six Nations showdown with the English.

The very essence of life - triumph over adversity - runs throughout the play, from the opening words of the All Black’s Haka, “Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!” (“It is death! It is death! It is life! It is life!”) through to the ordinary people on the Munster team and their extraordinary achievement in defeating the otherwise all-conquering Kiwis.

'Schmidt Happens', meanwhile, will feature readings from the Ross O’Carroll-Kelly adventures, complete with voices. Paul Howard will intercut these with funny stories and anecdotes gathered from his 21 years writing about the cult character of Ross O’Carroll-Kelly. Funds raised from the evening will be donated to GOAL, the Irish international aid agency.

For more information, check out www.milltheatre.ie or call 01 2969340.