The Bonniconlon Dramatic Society cast of Sam Cree’s Separate Beds. Back, from left: Rev Matthew Gribble (Jerome Tuohy), Ivy (Evie Murphy), Judy Marshall (Elaine Mullarkey), Alan Rea (Fergal Kilcullen), Sarah Rea (Maria Page) and Andy Crawford (Michael Leen). Front, from left: Madge Wirsall (Margaret Devine), Arthur Marshall (Tom Doherty) and Clare Marshall (Nikki Lawrence). Photo: Raymond Devine

High drama in north Mayo this weekend

The wallpaper is up, the back kitchen is in place – and the stage is set for the 2023 comedy of the year, Separate Beds.

Bonniconlon Dramatic Society present yet another laugh-out-loud performance as they bring Sam Cree’s play to life this weekend (Friday to Sunday, March 24 to 26 inclusive) at The Grove.

The three-act play is a tale of love, laughter and a few tears and tantrums, with the action taking place in the sitting room of the home of Arthur Marshall (Tom Doherty). Arthur’s daughter, Judy (Elaine Mullarkey), is about to tie the knot with Alan Rea (Fergal Kilcullen) and it is the night before the nuptials.

As his only daughter, Arthur has a vision for the big day ahead, but in a night of high drama and more than a few surprises, fate has other things in store for Mr. Marshall.

The arrival of his estranged wife, Clare (Nikki Lawrence), following a three-year absence and the response of his neighbour, Madge Wirsall (Margaret Devine), combine to throw the proverbial spanner in the works.

Throw a straight-laced mother-of-the-groom into the equation in the form of Sarah Rea (Maria Page); Ivy, an opinionated housekeeper (Evie Murphy); and the local painter, Andy Crawford (Michael Leen), and the scene is set.

It is safe to say the absent-minded minister, Rev Matthew Gribble (Jerome Tuohy), has more than a wedding on his hands with this lot!

The characters combine to relay a story of comedy, creativity and even a bit of music, dance and a taste of the wireless courtesy of Michael Ginley. There are certainly more than a few twists and turns along the way.

After months of rehearsals, the final touches are being put to this, the group’s latest production and their first since 2019 due to the Covid pandemic.

Director Barbara Ginley said: “We tend to select comedies, as we feel it really lightens the mood and provides a real escape and a chance to laugh out loud for the audience. This year we are delighted to have a host of new faces on stage alongside some more familiar ones.

"The whole cast has really worked hard, investing a lot of time and talent to make this fantastic production a reality – while marking our grand return to the stage. We are particularly lucky to have some previous cast members working behind the scenes, bringing a wealth of experience to the production.”

The fantastic set has been designed by the local Community Employment Scheme, and Michael Ginley will act as master of ceremonies nightly. As is customary in Bonniconlon, the meitheal is out in force and the local community has thrown its weight behind the three-night production, working on lights, sound, backstage, tickets, raffles, refreshments and much more.

Barbara was keen to extend her sincere thanks to the huge team which really brings the play from page to stage.

“We have a fantastic team ethic here in the parish and everyone in the community comes out to assist us in whatever way they can. Between the crew on and off stage, this show has really come together and we can’t wait until the curtain goes up – we promise a super show with plenty of laughs!”

An evening of great entertainment is guaranteed. Doors at The Grove, Bonniconlon, open at 7.30 p.m. nightly, with curtain up at 8.30 p.m. Tickets are priced at €10 and are available on the door nightly (with concession €5), and there will be a raffle each night.