Friel double bill and new comedy launch a new season at the Lyric Theatre
Spring bursts into life at the Lyric Theatre with two plays by one of Ireland’s greatest playwrights, Brian Friel opening an exciting new year of drama at the Belfast theatre.
Friel’s most acclaimed play, Philadelphia, Here I Come! launched him on to the international stage in 1964 and deals with themes still relevant today as the economic climate forces a new wave of Irish emigration. Directed by Andrew Flynn this production comes as Brian Friel celebrates his 85th birthday in 2014.
“It is fitting on the 50th anniversary of this great play that it is being staged at the Lyric,” said Andrew. “It is always a pleasure to work for such a dynamic and supportive company, but to be directing such a brilliant play with that support is a dream come true.”
Set in the fictional town of Ballybeg (Baile Beag) in Co Donegal, it is a touching portrait of a young man Gar O’Donnell torn between his small-town home in Ireland and the bright lights of America. Friel's big trick is to show the two sides of the 25-year-old – public Gar and private Gar – as he faces his dilemma.
Running simultaneously in the Naughton Studio is Friel’s rarely performed play Molly Sweeney which is a co-production with The Print Room, in London.
Marking the 100-year anniversary of the start of the First World War, the Lyric is staging a production of celebrated novel How Many Miles to Babylon by Jennifer Johnston. It tells the moving story of two young men, Alec and Jerry who come from very different backgrounds but find themselves on the fields of Flanders – one an officer, the other an enlisted soldier.
In May the Lyric is delighted to stage a brand new comedy by award-winning playwright Gary Mitchell and directed by the Lyric’s former Artistic Director, Richard Croxford. Demented tells the hilarious story of a bank heist involving a wheelchair-bound man and his best friend’s father who has dementia.
Roisín McDonough, Arts Council of Northern Ireland Chief Executive, said: “As principal funder of the Lyric Theatre, we are delighted that Northern Ireland’s only full time producing theatre is continuing its pursuit of excellence by offering a veritable feast of drama in 2014. A selection of favourites to mark both Friel’s 85th birthday year and the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, coupled with a comedy double from local playwrights, will make for a varied start to the year. The Lyric is primed to build on its success in 2014 with the £1million invested by the Arts Council continuing to protect, strengthen and develop the arts infrastructure here while stimulating the economy through cultural tourism.”
For more information on the Lyric’s season or to book, go to www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or contact the Box Office on (028) 9038 1081.