I received a short notice invite to attend a play in An Cultúrlann with a mate. What is it about? I asked. I’ve no idea, he replied. You had me at no idea. Pick me up and I’ll go, says I.
Standing greeting everyone was the writer, Mick Draine. I recognised his name from Lemonade Sandwich. It turns out he went to school with my brother and his mate. So I was promptly introduced as Niall’s wee sister. I fucking hate that.
It was The Good Room’s opening night and there was free alcohol in the milling around area. I grabbed myself a Heineken and was laughed at for my left handed use of a bottle opener. Always found my teeth easier to use but the company was too posh for that lark.
The room was already packed and we struggled to find two seats. But alas we did. I had a quick squizz around and recognised more than a few of the usual theatre hoi polloi. It’s always a good sign when playwrights support each other.
It’s a one woman show starring Julie Maxwell, who previously played the lead character of Maria in Fionnuala Kennedy’s critically acclaimed ‘Hostel’.
In The Good Room, Maxwell plays the part of Rose, a woman who grew up in West Belfast and is now forced to make life changing decisions about her future. She is very good at accents and switches from one character to another with ease.
It centres on the type of house everyone had, family relationships, well-known local characters and outside influences.
It’s a decent play to go to with your parents. The language is pretty safe, it will have you laughing and crying because there are parts of it that everyone will recognise and it will hit even the most heartless in the feels.
What I really like about Mick Draine’s plays is that he’s emerging as someone that’s doing something different. He’s certainly more modern than all the other playwrights. His use of multimedia rather than props makes him stand out from the rest. At all times the audience is captivated by movement and visualisation.
When I’m at a play, I observe how the audience reacts and last night I wasn’t disappointed with a woman in the front row laughing louder and longer than everyone else. These are my kinds of people. They’re what make West Belfast a good place to live – they come out en masse during Feile to show that they’re happy, loud and not afraid to show it.
It’s almost like one of the characters was based on her.
The Good Room is showing in An Cultúrlann from 10th – 13th August.