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Skulduggery at Gisborne's Unity Theatre

The name Martin McDonagh may not be familiar to many but for those who enjoyed movies such as In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, he is the man who wrote both highly entertaining scripts.

The acclaimed Irish playwright's works have delighted audiences from the West End to Broadway and now Gisborne's Unity Theatre is looking for actors to perform in the local production of A Skull in Connemara.

Patrons of Gisborne's Unity Theatre have encountered McDonagh's work in three productions of recent years — The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

Now Norman Maclean, who directed the last three McDonagh plays that Unity performed, is looking for actors to bring the riotous comedy to life.

Set in rural Galway, the play is characterised by McDonagh's usual blend of wildly funny lines in situations that range from the outrageous to the disturbing.

“He entertains through his use of the hilarious in the best possible poor taste,” Maclean said.

“There are characters and situations that offer audiences the kind of fare demanding warnings on the posters of Content May Offend.

“If Irish noir of high hilarity is to your taste then this play will strongly appeal.”

With a cast of only four, the roles offer each performer plenty of opportunity for complete immersion in a production that will challenge and stimulate.

The only female character is Maryjohnny Rafferty, a hard-bitten, shrewd elderly lady with a taste for poitín (a traditional Irish distilled beverage) and a way of getting under the skin of her two grandsons, Tom and Mairtin Hanlon.

Tom is a local policeman with his suspicions about what goes on in the local churchyard after dark.

Mairtin, his drop-kick sibling, is the butt of successive jokes and an apprentice to gravedigger, Mick Dowd.

Gravestones are not usually associated with dark humour but it is among these that Mick, the central character, spends much of his time, unearthing old bones to make way for new.

He also has to quell rumours that he had a hand in his wife's demise and that a spot of grave robbing is his little sideline.

Unearthing the truth runs as a theme throughout the play that also satirises the absurdity of those who insist they know the truth about anything despite a complete lack of hard evidence.

“McDonagh's writing always does more than make the audiences simultaneously squirm and double up laughing,” Maclean said.

“He explores universal foibles and longings but with a wit and occasional savagery that makes him a unique writer. In this play he digs deep, so to speak.”

Auditions for A Skull in Connemara will be held at 3pm on Sunday at Unity Theatre on Ormond Road. Perusal scripts are available from the i-SITE.

DIGGING DEEP FOR NEXT PRODUCTION: Norman Maclean is bringing Irish playwright Martin McDonagh's A Skull in Connemara to the Gisborne stage and is looking for actors to take on this Irish noir production. Picture by Leon Farrell