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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 1, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    What we said: Best Actor, Irish Theatre Awards

    Laurence Mackin

    In the run up to this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, we’ve been running a number of features incorporating this year’s nominees. As an extension of this, we’ll be taking a look at what the paper had to say about the productions and people involved in each category when the curtain went up.

    Brian O’Connell recently spoke to the four nominees in the best actor category. If you missed it, you can read what they had to say for themselves over here.

    Paul Reid is up for his role in Man of Valour, which is understandable given that this paper’s theatre critic Peter Crawley named it among his highlights of the year, and Sara Keating gave it four stars when she reviewed it, saying it “embodies fun and feeling in equal measure. It is part heroic journey, part moving study of grief. The video projection by Jack Phelan, lighting by Aedín Cosgrove, and sound and music by Denis Clohessey lend an epic, blockbuster feel to Man of Valour, transforming a bare stage into a multitude of atmospheric locations, from a toilet cubicle to the sewers.”

    Cillian Murphy has also been nominated for his role in Misterman, which earned standing ovations here and in New York. He brought his undeniable star quality to the production, and to the Galway Arts Festival during the summer. Peter Crawley reckoned this was a “genuinely virtuoso performance”. In his review, he said Murphy, “uses the minute detail of a film actor – his flickering eyes and expressive range are deftly eloquent – together with an impressive physicality that fills the stage”.

    Murphy told Arminta Wallace in this interview that the play is “about guilt and loneliness”, and his own relationship to playwright Enda Walsh was crucial to the production’s success.

    Judge, Murphy, O’Kane and Reid

    One of the surprise star productions this year was the gritty and effective Trade, with Philip Judge in the lead role.

    “It is a play of almost photorealistic detail,” wrote Peter Crawley in his four-star review, “which director Tom Creed’s production for THISISPOPBABY has matched with a meditation on intimacy – or at least its facsimile. Its grim look at the business of company and connection has sly implications for a theatre audience. All of us are paying for a service.” Incidentally, a review of Trade won our critics competition this year, and I’m almost sure it was the play that most entrants opted to review for the competition (you can read that winning entry here.) Similarly, Fintan O’Toole reckoned the production was “searingly raw” with the central conceit played out by Judge and Ciarán McCabe with “a flawless conviction”.

    Patrick O’Kane completes the shortlist, with his nomination for the part of John Proctor in The Crucible, one of the most praised productions in the awards. “In something that is less a staging than an immersion, we could have been sealed into a fractious 17th century farmstead or summoned, with impressively orchestrated scene changes, to an eruptive Salem courthouse,” wrote Peter Crawley of this terrific production. The show is a feather in the cap of the rejuvenated Lyric Theatre and a standard bearer for Northern Irish theatre.

    • Eddie Collins says:

      Why has the Irsh Theatre stopped reviewing some new plays? A number of shows weren’t reviewed last year and more recently the new play at Bewley’s has been ignored. Time was every new play was given the courtesy of a review.

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