Award-winning director returns to Lyric

Conall Morrison who won Best Director at the Irish Times Theatre Awards earlier this year for the Lyric Theatre’s acclaimed production of The Crucible returns to direct The Playboy of the Western World.

Rehearsals began this week for Irish masterpiece The Playboy of the Western World by John Millington (J.M.) Synge.

One of the most in-demand directors of his generation, Conall’s assured direction of the Lyric’s opening play in the newly-built theatre saw The Crucible nominated for five Irish Times Theatre Awards including Best Production.

But he has displayed a midas touch when it comes to Irish classics having directed TranslationsTarry Flynn and The Colleen Bawn for the Abbey, and Dancing at Lughnasa andJuno and the Paycock for the Lyric.

Under his talented direction, The Playboy of the Western Worldon the Northern Bank Stage promises to be a major highlight of the Lyric’s autumn programme. When it was first staged at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre in 1907 it famously sparked riots such was the angry reaction of audiences to the play.

The story is set in a village on the wild coast of Mayo where Christy Mahon takes refuge in a shebeen, claiming he has killed his father. News spreads like wildfire, but the locals are more interested in enjoying his story than in condemning the immorality of his murderous deed. He captures the romantic attention of beautiful but feisty bar-maid Pegeen Mike and, when he wins the horse race on the strand, he is truly ‘the wonder of the Western World’. That is, until his ‘dead’ father walks in…

“The Playboy of the Western World pulls no punches in its portrayal of life in the west of Ireland and contains some magnificent language,” said the director, Conall Morrison. “This new production will harness the energy, dynamism and craic of the peninsula – a mad maelstrom of music, drink, mayhem and violence and the playground for some very primal confrontations.”

The strong cast includes Patrick Moy (Christy Mahon) and Niall Cusack who recently starred in The Importance of Being Earnest, and Orla Fitzgerald (Pegeen Mike) who appeared earlier this year in Uncle Vanya at the Lyric alongside Conleth Hill. There are also familiar faces on the Lyric stage such as Lalor Roddy and Alan McKee.

Lyric Artistic Director, Richard Croxford, said he was delighted to have Conall directing again particularly after his recent success.

The Playboy of the Western World is a stunning play and in the hands of a superb director like Conall Morrison I have no doubt we are in for a wonderful production this September,” he said.

“We have had a fabulous first year at the Lyric winning many prizes for architecture, but our raison d’être is drama and under Conall Morrison’s direction we brought home two coveted Irish Times Theatre Awards for Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. We hope that audiences who enjoyed The Crucible last year will return to see this masterpiece of Irish theatre.”

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said she looked forward to the autumn season at the Lyric: “The past twelve months have been a landmark time for the Lyric; an exciting phase in the history of this celebrated theatre. Award-winning director Conall Morrison has helped cement the Lyric’s enviable reputation as one of Ireland’s leading producing theatre companies.”

The Playboy of the Western World runs on the Northern Bank Stage at the Lyric Theatre from 9 September to 6 October.