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Belfast’s Lyric Theatre to celebrate Belfast Ensemble

Published: 22 June 2019
Reporter: Michael Quinn

The Lyric Theatre, Belfast is to present a weekend of performances by one of Northern Ireland’s newest companies, the multimedia music theatre group Belfast Ensemble.

BASH! TRIPLE BILL will include two revivals, a one-off Gilbert and Sullivan gala, and a new work examining recent political developments in the region, including the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry earlier this year. It comes as the company prepares to make its first appearances in England at London’s Southbank Centre and in Hull as part of the PRSF New Music Biennial in July.

Specially created for the Lyric mini-fest is composer and company co-founder Conor Mitchell’s Lunaria. Written for chamber orchestra and spoken voice, it takes its name from a flower that blooms every two years (more commonly known, appropriately enough, as ‘Honesty’) and seeks to “explore what is possible when artists of many disciplines make work together for two exciting years”.

Also featured during the weekend will be Mitchell’s The C*** of Queen Catherine for solo performer and quintet in a newly reworked version of a work that explores, the company says, “what happens when Europe divides in two, Tudor-style”.

Recently seen as Eunice in the Lyric’s acclaimed staging of A Streetcar Named Desire, Abigail McGibbon will reprise her performance, first seen in 2017, as Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

Completing the weekend is 2018’s The Fall of the House of Usher—“an electric fusion of orchestra, video and actors… a high-octane response to Poe’s horror classic writ large for the Lyric’s stage”—and a gala performance of the G&S classic The Pirates of Penzance that boasts the opera debut of Olivier Award-winning playwright and actress Marie Jones as the Chief of Police.

Welcoming the weekend-long residency, the Lyric’s executive producer Jimmy Fay said: “any of the Belfast Ensemble’s creations are essential theatrical experiences for all of us who care about theatre, art and music in Belfast”.

BASH! TRIPLE BILL runs from June 28–29, with The Pirates of Penzance on June 30.