Performance of Abbey show cancelled after technical glitch

Theatre apologises after difficulty with system that sees ‘parts of the set fly in and out’

 A scene from the Abbey Theatre’s new version of Edna O’Brien novel The Country Girls. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

A scene from the Abbey Theatre’s new version of Edna O’Brien novel The Country Girls. Photograph: Ros Kavanagh

 

Hundreds of people were left disappointed on Friday evening after the Abbey Theatre cancelled a performance of Edna O’Brien’s The County Girls shortly before the play was due to begin.

The theatre issued a tweet shortly after 7.30pm that read: “Please forgive us. Due to technical difficulties we have to cancel tonight’s performance of #TheCountryGirls.

“We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused. We’re working on it and plan to be back for a two show day tomorrow.”

In a statement to The Irish Times, a spokesman for the Abbey said that 400 people were in the theatre before the show was cancelled.

“We unfortunately had to cancel tonight’s performance of The Country Girls due to a technical issue,” he said. “The issue has since been identified and we are confident tomorrow’s shows will go ahead as planned.

“We had 400 people in tonight all of whom will be offered tickets to another night or a refund. The show runs for another two weeks before going on tour to Cork, Limerick and Galway.”

The set of the show, which was designed by Francis O’Connor, utilises a “fly system”, which is an arrangement of rope lines, blocks, counterweights and other devices within a theatre that enables a stage crew to hoist components on and off the stage quickly.

The spokesman for the Abbey said the technical issue that led to the cancellation of Friday’s show related to this aspect of the production.

“Parts of the set fly in and out,” he said. “It’s quite intricate in terms of how it’s done. That wasn’t functioning correctly. We found that out shortly before the show so it was a last minute decision we had to make.

“We’ve managed to get it working again, but we have to check everything again in the morning. Our technical director is confident that it will go ahead as planned.”

The cancellation came just hours after playwright Jimmy Murphy called on the Minister for Culture and the Arts Council to insist the theatre appoint an independent investigator to look into allegations of “difficult working conditions” at the national theatre.

Mr Murphy’s intervention came about following a letter of concern from theatre professionals in January about the Abbey’s model of production.

The spokesman said any customer affected by Friday’s cancellation will either get a refund or will be offered tickets to an alternative showing.

The Country Girls, which ends in Dublin on April 6th before moving on to other theatres, is a coming of age story of two young women in 1950s Ireland.

It was Edna O’Brien’s debut novel and was banned when it first emerged in 1960 under the Censorship of Publications Act but went on to become a best-seller.