Love is in the air at Belfast's Lyric Theatre

Published: 28 November 2019
Reporter: Michael Quinn

Tara Lynne O’Neill returns to the Lyric Theatre, Belfast as Shirley Valentine Credit: Johnny Frazer

The Lyric Theatre, Belfast’s newly announced programme for spring and summer 2020 will see the return of Derry Girls star Tara Lynne O’Neill as Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine and punk rock musical Good Vibrations following recent sold-out runs at the venue and on tour

Exploring “themes of thwarted love, twisted love, forbidden love”, the Careless Love­ season launches in February with Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate, the latest collaboration between the Lyric and Northern Ireland Opera following 2019’s Sweeney Todd.

Adapted for the stage by Colin Carberry and Glenn Patterson from their 2014 BAFTA-nominated film, Good Vibrations pays tribute to local punk music pioneer Terri Hooley and will also be seen at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and on tour.

New work includes Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s disturbing take on George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984. Co-produced with Belfast-based Bruiser Theatre Company and directed by Lisa May, it promises to “leave audiences gripping their seats in fear”.

Complementing 1984 will be five newly commissioned “performance pieces” presented under the New Speak banner as a timely intervention to “expose doublethink and offer a new narrative”.

Also new is Liz Lochhead’s adaptation of Dracula, which will be directed by Philip Crawford with members of the Lyric Drama Studio

The season will also see a number of events commemorating Sam McCready, a founder member of the Lyric Theatre who gave his last appearance at the venue in 2018 and died in February this year aged 82.

Independent companies scheduled to visit in the first six months of 2020 include playwright Martin Lynch’s Green Shoot Productions with the première of In the Name of the Son: The Gerry Conlon Story, co-written with Richard O’Rawe, the return of Soda Bread Theatre Company’s revival of Marie Jones’s A Night in November and McChill Productions with Robert Story’s Spud!, written and performed by Conor Grimes and Kevin McAleer and directed by Conleth Hill.