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Voyage and Discovery in Belfast

Published: 7 June 2019

Derry Girls star Tara Lynne O’Neill is to open the Lyric Theatre, Belfast’s newly announced Voyage and Discovery season in a revival of Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine.

Recently attracting fame as Ma in Lisa McGee’s Channel 4 comedy hit, O’Neill will also be seen on tour across Ireland in director Patrick J O’Reilly’s revival of Russell’s monologue, including a run at the Millennium Forum in Derry.

Co-produced with the Dublin Theatre Festival, J M Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World will also tour after performances in Belfast, with former Abbey Theatre and Donmar Warehouse resident assistant director Oonagh Murphy taking directing duties.

New work includes the Lyric’s New Playwrights Programme graduate Meghan Tyler’s Crocodile Fever—“a darkly comic surreal tale of sisters taking on the dark forces around their farm to the soundtrack of '80s pop”—in association with Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre.

Described as “a rich black comedy” that conjures an imagined different history for Ireland, Michael Patrick and Oisin Kearney’s The Alternative will tour as part of the Dublin-based Fishamble Theatre Company’s A Play for Ireland project before its Lyric performances.

Visiting productions include an evening with Ian McKellen as part of the knight’s 80th birthday celebrations, Hollywood star Geraldine Hughes’s one-woman play Belfast Blues and a first opera by Conor Mitchell, Abomination, presented by the multimedia Belfast Ensemble as part of the city’s Outburst Queer Arts Festival.

The Lyric’s executive producer Jimmy Fay said the new season “invites audiences to join us on a journey to explore new works, see familiar faces or join us on our tour across Ireland. The Lyric is a shared civic space for artists and audiences alike; a creative hub for theatre-making, nurturing talent and promoting the critical role of the arts in society. Our mission is to create, entertain and inspire.”

Michael Quinn