D

Margaret D’Arcy

Born Belfast 1918

Genial and multi-faceted stage actor, who joined the Group Players in the final months of WW2, after a short period at Stratford and repertory theatre in the North Of England.

Notable among her early appearances was the role of Mary McCracken, in Jack Loudan’s ‘Henry Joy McCracken’ in 1945 and following a settling in period during the late forties, she developed into a much respected Group member, appearing throughout the fifties, until the demise of the venerable company in 1959.

She was a model repertory player, equally adept in both comedy and drama and displayed her skills with great aplomb in such productions as the J.R.Mageean/Ruddick Millar comedy ‘Arty’ 1951, with a cast brimful of Group titans and an ever improving James Young in the title role.

Other praiseworthy performances in the early fifties included the roles of May Riordan in Patrick Riddell’s ‘The House of Mallon’ 1952 and Dolly Munro in the Jack Loudan satire, ‘A Lock of the General’s Hair’ in 1953.

Her stature was such that by 1954 she was already considered as the heir apparent to the Queen of Ulster Theatre, Elizabeth Begley and her claims were consolidated in many Group classics, including Michael J.Murphy’s ‘Dust Under Our Feet’ 1953 and Joseph Tomelty’s ‘Is The Priest at Home?’ 1954.

Two title roles in 1955 gave further credence to this opinion, St. John Greer Ervine’s ‘Martha’ and C.K.Munro’s ‘Diana’, in which she played to perfection the emotionally stretched daughter of a Conservative MP.

She produced yet another inimitable performance as Denys Hawthorne’s wife Portia Carstairs, in Louis Macneice’s splendid eve of war drama, ‘Traitors in Our Way’ 1957 and with the exception of the forced short distance transfer to the Grand Opera House, for Gerard McLarnon’s ‘The Bonefire’ in 1958, her stage career to that point had been played out exclusively at the Group.

However the association ended abruptly the following year, with the break up of the acting company, an inevitable conclusion to the storm created by the imprudent interference concerning the McLarnon play and the distinct lack of common sense shown in the treatment of Sam Thompson’s outstanding work, ‘Over the Bridge’.

After her last appearance as a Group player, in the comedy ‘Sailor Beware’ 1959, she moved to England, where in 1960 she made her very low key film debut as a Nurse in the Robert S.Baker/Monty Berman directed, factual drama ‘The Siege of Sidney Street’.

A London stage appearance followed, with a small role in Paddy Chayefsky’s ‘The Tenth Man’, directed by Tyrone Guthrie at the Comedy Theatre in 1961

After several blank years, she re-surfaced as Maisie Hunter in Sam Thompson’s establishment shaking television play, ‘Cemented With Love’ 1965 and was prominent in a cast packed with former Group Players, including Elizabeth Begley J.G.Devlin and Harold Goldblatt.

Another period in the void followed and such was her protracted absence from the stage, that her appearance in George Shiels’ ‘Macooks Corner’ at the Abbey in 1969, was considered a rare event indeed.

In 1976, after an even longer term of inactivity and in an attempt to re-acquaint herself with repertory work, she joined the Lyric Players in Belfast and that year played Trilbe Costello in Brian Friel’s’ The Loves of Cass Maguire’, alongside a wide eyed and inexperienced Liam Neeson as Dom.

The next year she was role perfect in John Boyd’s 1930s Belfast set drama ‘The Street’ and the same year displayed her indubitable stage craft to great effect in a notable production of Sean O’Casey’s, ‘The Plough and the Stars’.

Her role as Sister Clare in the 1978 television mystery, ‘Quiet as a Nun’, came almost thirteen years after her first small screen appearance in ‘Cemented With Love’ but any notion of a belated screen career was once again dispelled, with yet another leave of absence.

Her last regular stage offensive occurred between 1981/83 and included roles in ‘Jennifer’s Vacation’ at the Gate Theatre Dublin in 1981, Robin Glendinning’s ‘Culture Vultures’ at the Tricycle Kilburn 1982 and a raft of Lyric productions such as Wilde’s ‘An Ideal Husband’ 1981 and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ 1982, Graham Reid’s ‘The Hidden Curriculum’ 1982 and Christina Reid’s ‘Tea in a China Cup’ 1983.

Some years later and aged seventy one, she appeared as the bedridden matriarch Mrs Wilson, in Brian Friel’s ‘Lovers’, presented at the Druid Theatre Galway in 1989 and in the best of her few subsidiary television roles during the nineties, she played James Ellis’ wife Alice McVea, in Graham Reid’s powerful Belfast set drama ‘The Precious Blood’ 1996.

In 2002 she became a serious candidate for the oldest working actor in Ulster, with her cameo as Madame Tooney in the film adaptation of Spike Milligan’s madcap novel ,’Puckoon’, which after almost sixty years, brought her long but frustratingly fractured career to a close.

Margaret D’Arcy was perhaps not as comfortable on screen as her Group contemporaries, Begley, Devlin, Ellis, Goldblatt and  even Tomelty, who had a cruelly short career but who all relatively prospered in that medium, she did nevertheless leave her mark on the Irish stage, as a gifted player across the genres who always delivered, regardless of product.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-The Diary of Anne Frank(1958) Group Theatre Belfast

-The Whiteheaded Boy(1977) Lyric Theatre Belfast

-Blithe Spirit(1978) Arts Theatre, Belfast

-The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie(1988) Arts Theatre, Belfast

Film

-Wild About Harry(2000)

TV

-Love Lies Bleeding(1993)

-Kings in Grass Castles(1998)

Julia Dearden

Born Belfast 1961

Ardent and astute actor with an overt stage emphasis, who studied at the Central School Of Speech And Drama, graduating in 1982.

The following year she made her television debut as Pauline Magill, the Martin family neighbour, in the second of Graham Reid’s Billy trilogy, ‘A Matter Of Choice For Billy’.

She gained early stage experience around this time, touring with the RSC in the roles of Mopsa, in ‘The Winters Tale’ and Mercy Lewis in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, playing most memorably at Christ Church, Spitalfields London in 1984, under the direction of Adrian Noble.

Her first film appearance was less impressive, credited as a Shop Assistant in director Pat Murphy’s award winning ‘Cal’ 1984, an adaptation of Bernard MacLaverty’s novel of love and guilt amidst the troubles.

Following a period of inertia, she re-emerged on the Olivier stage in the National Theatre’s 1988 production of Dion Boucicault’s ‘The Shaughraun’ and took a starring role as Fidelma in the post WW1, Wicklow set television film ‘Troubles’, starring aspirational leading man Sean Bean.

In 1991 she joined the cast of ‘Dancing At Lughnasa’, which had transferred from the National to the Phoenix Theatre, taking the role of Maggie Mundy, a short term replacement for Dearbhla Molloy but missed the Broadway opening later that year.

High profile work eluded her from 1992 and she had little to cheer until 1995 and a couple of  laudable stage performances, first as Carmel in Michael Harding’s ‘Backsides To The Wind’ at the Theatre Royal Waterford and then as Carol in the Lyric’s production of Graham Reid’s ‘Lengthening Shadows’, starring former minor screen star Sean Caffrey.

During the next five years she managed to squeeze herself into the credit lists of three Irish produced films, ‘Titanic Town’ 1998, ‘The Most Fertile Man In Ireland’ 1999 and in Colin Bateman’s ‘Wild About Harry’ 2000, was reduced to the trifling role of a Ward Sister.

A much more rewarding spell in theatre from 2000, offered better opportunities to demonstrate her versatility and included a splendid performance that year at the Group, in the title role of  ‘Ruby’, Marie Jones’ tribute to legendary Belfast born singer Ruby Murray.

Other highpoints were her Lady Bracknell in ‘The Importance Of Being Earnest’ at the Lyric in 2001 and was a convincingly callous Maureen, in Gary Mitchell’s unsparing ‘Loyal Women’ at the Royal Court in 2003.

In the autumn of 2005 she appeared in Richard Norton -Taylor’s docu-play, ‘Bloody Sunday, Scenes From The Saville Enquiry’, which premiered at the Tricycle Theatre Kilburn and a few weeks later at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield, she boldly carried off the male role of Dogberry, in newly appointed Artistic Director Samuel West’s production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.

Notable stage roles in 2006 included Mrs Prynne, in Dan Gordon’s Ulster touring production of Hugh Leonard’s ‘Da’ and a wonderfully obstreperous Mrs Henderson, in director Philip Breen’s one act restructuring of ‘Shadow Of A Gunman’, at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

On television in 2007, she cut a most plausible figure as the heroine Catherine Morland’s mother, in director Jon Jones’ satisfactory and star free version of Jane Austen’s often neglected ‘Northanger Abbey’. In April 2011, director Conall Morrison cast her as the unfortunate Sarah Good, in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, the opening play at the rebuilt Lyric Theatre, Belfast and she squeezed  into the substantial Ulster born cast, in Allan Cubitt’s crime thriller ‘The Fall’, appearing in two episodes during 2013/14.

In a career top heavy with stage credits, Julia Dearden has at times exhibited a somewhat distilled passion for the screen, which undoubtedly influenced the level of work available to her.

 

Other Theatre and TV credits:

Theatre

-Camille(1985) RSC Comedy Theatre, London

-The Silver Tassie(1994) Almeida Theatre, London

-The Mai(1997) Tricycle Theatre, London

-Into The Heartland(1998) Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast

-The Home Place(2009) Grand Opera House, Belfast

-Electra(2014) Old Vic, London

Film

– The Carer(2016)

TV

– Clarissa(1991)

– Rag Nymph(1997)

– Dani’s Castle(2013)

– 6Degrees(2014)

 J.G. Devlin

Born Belfast 8th October 1907

Died Belfast 17th October 1991

Redoubtable character actor in all mediums, who was a compelling presence for almost sixty years, from his stage debut as the solicitor in D. McLaughlin’s comedy, ‘Andrew McIlfatrick, J.P’. presented by the West Belfast based Oranmore Players in the Dungannon Amateur Dramatics Festival of 1931.

He toured the province in the early thirties with the Irish Players and during the war years, produced countless plays at Mackies Foundry in Belfast, with an ensemble of part-time actors.

Surprisingly it was as late as 1948, when he made an early appearance with the Group Players, then the principle company in Ulster theatre, as the melancholic John Quinn in Joseph Tomelty’s minor classic, ‘All Souls’ Night’. A year later he took a supporting role in John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’, which also featured a youthful James Young in the cast.

His arrival at the Group could not have been better timed, as Joseph Tomelty, whose new work ‘The McCooeys’, set for radio broadcast in May 1949, had pencilled in several of the Group Players as his proposed cast.

Devlin, although only forty two years old, seemed a natural choice for the patriarchal curmudgeon Granda and the series which ran for six years, became part of Ulster folklore, establishing him as a household name and paved the way for a long and rewarding career.

He became a huge favourite with Group audiences during the fifties, with outstanding performances in productions such as ‘Juno and the Paycock’ 1950, in a cast which was notable for the stage debut of a raw nineteen year old actor from Glengormley called Billy Millar, later to find greater fame in Hollywood as Stephen Boyd.

Other notable appearances in his early years at the Group, included central roles in St John Greer Ervine’s ‘My Brother Tom’ 1952, Jack Loudan’s ‘A Lock of the General’s Hair’ 1953, Joseph Tomelty’s ‘Is the Priest at Home?’1954 and Patricia O’Connor’s ‘The Farmer Wants a Wife’ 1955.

In his first film role in 1955, he was perhaps unsurprisingly cast as an Irish type, playing Tuer O’Brian in then nineteenth century rural Irish romp, ‘Captain Lightfoot’, a tepid Rock Hudson vehicle shot on location in Co. Meath.

His first television appearance was in the inaugural small screen adaptation of the O’Casey classic ‘Juno and the Paycock’ broadcast in 1957 and a year later experienced the first of two controversies that would, within a couple of years result in the demise of the Group Players.

Gerard McLarnon’s play ‘The Bonefire’, which had pricked the sensitivities of the Group Board Of Directors, was forced to transfer to the Grand Opera House, where, under the direction of Tyrone Guthrie and a cast which also included Colin Blakely and James Ellis, it enjoyed a run of packed houses during the summer of 1958.

1959 proved a momentous year for him, co-starring in the Disney film ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’, with fellow West Belfast born actor Albert Sharpe in the title role and a young Sean Connery as the handsome hero.

He also bade farewell to the Group Players, appearing in two final productions in their spiritual home, ‘Sailor Beware’ and J.B.Priestley’s ‘When We Are Married’ and together with Group colleague Colin Blakely, made his London stage debut in Sean O’Casey’s ‘Cock-A-Doodle-Dandy.

He finished the year with his profile higher than he could have hoped, rounding it off with an appearance in Joseph Tomelty’s ‘A Shilling for the Evil Day’, Ulster Television’s first ever screened play, broadcast on November 1st , the second day of the station’s existence.  In January 1960, together with a nucleus of the now disbanded Group Players, he appeared at the Empire Theatre Belfast, in James Ellis’ production of Sam Thompson’s masterwork, ‘Over the Bridge’, with himself as union official Rabbie White, Joseph Tomelty as Davy Mitchell and Ellis as a bigoted mob leader.

The play, which ran for five sell-out weeks, was rejected by the Group directors the previous year and as playwright Gerard McLarnon discovered with his similarly treated piece, ‘The Bonfire’ in 1958, politically motivated artistic constraints serve only as free publicity and as ultimately proved by audience reaction, totally unnecessary.

In the early sixties he was kept busy with a raft of screen work, mostly in routine British features and television plays, including urbane English actor Nigel Patrick’s second and last directing effort, ‘Johnny Nobody’ 1961, Alvin Ratoff’s ‘The Comedy Man’ 1964 and in perhaps the better of his small screen appearances, starred as Mr Gregory, in an episode of ‘Armchair Mystery Theatre’ in 1964.

Stage roles, particularly in Belfast during this time were in short supply, with both the Group and Arts Theatres taking a more hard headed business approach in production choice, preferring farce to drama.

He was however offered an opportunity to charge his batteries, accepting a leading role in Harold Goldblatt’s short lived Ulster Theatre Company’s revival of Paul Vincent Carroll’s ‘The White Steed’, which following a short Belfast run, undertook a brief local tour in 1963.

Film work in the remainder of the sixties was scant, with only minor roles in uninspiring fare such as ‘The Caper of the Golden Bulls’ 1967, starring a now declining Stephen Boyd and director Jack Gold’s ‘The Reckoning’ 1969.

Fortunately this meagre output was not replicated on television and indeed his profile was raised a few notches with the role of Herbert Button, in the BBCs much hyped ‘The Newcomers’ 1965/69, which was seen rather imprudently, as a serious rival to ‘Coronation Street’.

Guest appearances in episodes of ‘Man in a Suitcase’ 1968, ‘The Champions’ 1969 and A.J.Cronin’s long running and hugely popular ‘Dr Finlays Casebook, 1962/71, were just some of his many small screen highlights towards the end of the decade.

On stage, he had a cherished working reunion with a few old Group colleagues including Elizabeth Begley and R.H.McCandless, when Harold Goldblatt invited him to appear in his Ulster Theatre Company’s production of St John Ervine’s comedy ‘Friends and Relations’, which opened to great expectation at the Grove Theatre Belfast in 1967.

An undoubted highpoint in the seventies was his first ever season with the National in 1975, where he appeared memorably with Stephen Rea in two plays, director Bill Bryden’s adaptation of ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ and Peter Hall’s acclaimed interpretation of ‘Hamlet’, in which, as suggested by Hall, both played The Gravediggers with broad Belfast accents.

That same year he took the role of Pat Quinn, the kind hearted neighbour of Siobhan McKenna’s Cass Maguire, in a satisfactory television exposition of Brian Friel’s ‘The Loves of Cass Maguire’ and in 1976, appeared in an episode of the 1920s Tyneside set BAFTA Award winning series, ‘When The Boat Comes In’, starring a very much at home James Bolam.

In 1980, well into his seventies and still active on screen, he played the delightfully wicked manservant Old Scrotum, in Vivian Stanshall’s surreal romp, ‘Sir Henry At Rawlinson’s End’ and had a little cameo as Tam, in director Diarmuid Lawrence’s television adaptation of Bernard MacLaverty’s short story, ‘My Dear Palestrina’, a study of friendship and respect, ineluctably destroyed through naked prejudice.

In 1982, his final year in theatre, he was fortunate to work with two former Group Players, appearing with Patrick McAlinney in Wesley Burrowes’ comedy, ‘Affluence’ at the Arts Theatre Belfast and at the Cottesloe in November of that year, in his last ever stage role, played Quince, with James Ellis as Egeus in a sparkling National Theatre production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’.

He continued with his screen career throughout the eighties, playing a mix of Irish types, he was the Boswell family’s conscience salving priest, Father Dooley, in Carla Lane’s effervescent comedy series ‘Bread’ 1986/91 and appeared fleetingly as Jake, in Bob Hoskins’ ‘The Raggedy Rawney’, first screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 1988 and released generally in 1990.

In his swansong film role and aged eighty four, he was credited as an Irish Villager in the Tom Cruise/ Nicole Kidman flight of fancy feature, ‘Far and Away’ 1992, not the best choice for a fond farewell to a profession he so effectively graced for sixty years.

J.G.Devlin was often brilliant but always true to his origins and without question had the most durable career of all Ulster born actors.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-Ill Fares the Land(1956) Group Theatre Belfast

-Kaine(1966) Guildford

-The Assassin(1969) Gaeity Theatre Dublin

-God is Good(1975) Royal Lyceum Edinburgh

-The Plough and the Stars(1977) NT Olivier

-The Iceman Cometh(1980) NT Cottesloe

-The Crucible(1980) NT Cottesloe

Film

-Jacqueline(1956)

-The Outsider(1979)

-No Surrender(1985)

-The Miracle(1991)

TV

-The Reunion(1962)

 

Branwell Donaghey

Born Greysteel, Co. Derry 1977

Versatile and congenial character player, a LAMDA graduate with a natural disposition for the stage, who made a noteworthy early title role appearance in director David Grant’s adaptation of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’, at the Lyric, Belfast in 1994. This Ulster Youth Theatre presentation also saw Enniskillen born Ciaran McMenamin, inconspicuous in the populous supporting cast and credited only with a minor singing role.

On a leave of absence, in his penultimate year at LAMDA, he gained valuable work experience, cast as Martin, in Sam Shepherd’s ‘Fool for Love’, a hallmark exposition of dysfunctional Americana, staged at the Redgrave Theatre, Bristol in 1997. In his final year, 1998, he featured as Mr. Micawber in the Geoffrey Reeves directed, school touring production of ‘David Copperfield’, in a cast which included ‘The Hobbit’ star, Richard Armitage as Uriah Heep.

He worked sparingly in 1999, but marked his screen debut as Leo Galileo in director Richard Spence’s sci-fi action film, ‘New World Disorder’ and played Danny Dorgan in an adaptation of the 1940’s film noir classic, ‘Laura’, directed by Sally Hughes and performed at The Mill at Sonning, Reading.

He was soon into a welter of theatre work in the new millennium, recruited by the National Theatre for a series of plays during 2000/01. An inconsequential role in Tim Supple’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ at the Olivier in October 2000, was quickly followed the same year on the Cottesloe stage, with a somewhat more elevated credit in the Harold Pinter/Di Trevis reworking of Proust’s prodigious novel, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’.

By then he was nudging progressively closer to character significance; Cast as a Lord in Nicholas Hytner’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’, as Tummas the Porter in Trevor Nunn’s translation of Van Brugh’s quasi-farcical ‘The Relapse’ and was at least noticed as Seabee Tom O’Brien, in Nunn’s rather facile production of ‘South Pacific’, all at the Olivier in 2001.

Following multiple roles in ‘Hamlet’, at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2003, he joined the RSC at Stratford for a season, taking ensemble work in ‘Titus Andronicus’ and ‘As You Like it’, both at The Swan and was a splendid, flimflamming Nicholas Skeres in Peter Whelan’s, Christopher Marlowe inspired, ‘The School of Night’, at The Other Place, all 2003.

He returned to Ireland in 2004, appearing at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, as chief protagonist David Craig, in a revival of Frank McGuinness’ penetrating WWI narrative, ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’. Further engagements for the National Theatre in 2006, saw him appearing in two plays on the Olivier stage. He was Spanish Conquistador, Vasca, in Peter Shaffer’s ‘The Royal Hunt of the Sun’, directed with surprising constraint by Trevor Nunn and Leather Man, in writer David Eldridge’s vibrant 1980’s set ‘Market Boy’.

At the Waterfront Studio, Belfast in 2007, he appeared as the amoral abattoir worker, Joe Hynes, in Owen McCafferty’s award winning ‘Scenes From the Big Picture’ and for the remainder of the decade he worked on both stage and screen, the latter a medium he had hitherto rarely visited.

In 2008, Trevor Nunn secured his services again, this time for a television production of ‘King Lear’, with Ian McKellen as the titular monarch and Frances Barber as the treacherous Goneril. Now a valued foot soldier of Trevor Nunn, he played jury member George Sillars in the director’s 2009 revival of the matchless courtroom drama, ‘Inherit the Wind’, presented at the Old Vic, London and starring Kevin Spacey as the liberal defender Clarence Darrow.

He was given more screen opportunities from 2010, landing an appreciable recurring part as riveter and principled union official Michael McCann, in the Ciaran Donnelly directed, quasi-fictional series ‘Titanic: Blood and Steel’ in 2012. That same year Ridley Scott gave him a peripheral role as Mercenary 1, in his sci-fi thriller, ‘Prometheus’, which starred Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba, then followed two guest roles in 2014 in the crime drama series ‘Quirke’ and ‘Crossing Lines’, both directed by Diarmuid Lawrence.

He then took a solid credit as upstairs neighbour Steve Hubbell in Tennessee Williams’ searing drama ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, staged at the end of that year at the Young Vic, London, featuring Gillian Anderson as the frangible and tragic Blanche DuBois. In 2016 he returned as UVF hardman Frank Martin in series three of Steven Knight’s early 20th century Brummie crime drama ‘Peaky Blinders’, having introduced himself at the end of series two in 2014. Branwell Donaghey’s screen status is arguably that of a dependable minor player, who came late to that medium, but conversely his reputable stage credentials stand up well to close inspection.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-The Tamer Tamed(2003) RSC The Swan, Stratford

-Mojo Mickybo(2007) Royal Exchange Studio, Manchester

-Treasure Island(2008) Theatre Royal Haymarket, London

 

Film

-Black Sea(2014)

-The Foreigner(2016)

TV

-Dalziel and Pascoe(2007)

-Doctors(2010)

-The Crimson Petal and the White(2011)

-Our Girl(2013)

-The Night Manager(2016)

 

Laura Donnelly

Born Belfast 24th June 1982

Bright and engaging stage and screen actor, a Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama graduate in 2004, who made her professional debut in May of that year as the meddling maid Catherine, in David Mamet’s sharp comedy ‘A Boston Marriage’, presented at the Project Arts Centre, Dublin.

Later the same year she was ideally cast in the title role of director Stuart Patterson’s pantomime ‘Sleeping Beauty’, staged at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Regular work on television followed in 2005/06 and included her first screen appearance, playing Beth in two episodes of the Channel 4 adaptation of Julie Birchill’s romantic drama ‘Sugar Rush’ and in the same theme, as lesbian ghost girl Maya Robertson in four episodes of the two season supernatural drama ‘Hex’, both 2005.

Further small screen credits in 2007 saw her in supporting roles, the best of which was as Leanne 0’Dwyer in director Ian Fitzgibbon’s ‘Be More Ethnic’, one of BBC Three’s ‘Comedy Specials’ series of sitcom pilot shows. She ended her three year break from theatre in 2007, taking the role of youngest sister and mother Chrissie Mundy in Brian Friel’s internationally acclaimed ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. The production, directed by Mick Gordon also featured Gerard McSorley as brother Jack and Aislin McGuckin as pensive sister Agnes.

At the open-air theatre in Regent’s Park, London in June/July 2008, under the direction of Timothy Sheader, she was sympathetically appealing as the doomed heroine Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and was a delightful, homesick Hermia in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. During 2009/10 she was busy in theatre, film and television, playing the seductive, visiting American, Ashley in writer/director Mark Kalbskopf’s shire set, small budget romantic comedy ‘Right Hand Drive’ and the troubled student Abby in the British produced horror film ‘Dread’, both 2009.

On stage at the Almeida Theatre, London that same year, she was cast as Anna in Austro-Hungarian writer Odon Von Horvath’s psychological drama ‘Judgment Day’ and on television in 2010 was the Druid girl Freya in two episodes of the fantasy adventure series ‘Merlin’. A potential career enhancing role as CIA agent Violet Heath in the American television series ‘Missing’ in 2012, came to grief after just one season; writer Gregory Poirier’s mystery thriller screened on the ABC network, suffered declining week on week audience figures and was subsequently decommissioned.

A return to theatre soon after, offered her a small opportunity to mask her disappointment, with an impressive performance as Kate Doogan, ex girlfriend of Gar (public) in Brian Friel’s early memory piece ‘Philadelphia Here I Come’, revived for a two month run at the Donmar Warehouse, London in 2012. She worked constantly from 2013, seen briefly as Paul Spector’s(Jamie Dornan) third victim, Sarah Kay, in the first series of Allan Cubitt’s BAFTA award winning ‘The Fall’. She then took a minor role in writer/director Anthony Wilcox’s ill conceived 2013 comedy feature ‘Hello Carter’ and a co-starring credit as Ellida Wangel in the Norwegian produced comedy drama ‘Heart of Lightness’ 2014.

Other screen work included  the television series ‘Outlander’ 2014/15 and an ancilliary casting as the defamed masseuse Emma O’Reilly in Stephen Frear’s hard hitting Lance Armstrong expose, ‘The Program’ in 2015. A career highpoint was her Broadway debut at the Circle in the Square Theatre in 2014, as The Other Woman, opposite Hugh Jackman in Jez Butterworth’s sequel to ‘Jerusalem’, the eerily poetic ‘The River’, a role she made her own during the original run at the Royal Court in 2012. Laura Donnelly has proved herself a natural stage performer of considerable range and with a little more fortune in effectual projects, could establish a genuine screen profile.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-Tutto Bene Mama(2013) Print Room, London

-The Wasp(2015) Hampstead Theatre Downstairs, London

Film

-Insatiable(2008)

 TV

-Casualty(2005)

-The Bill(2006)

-Rough Diamond(2007)

-Best: His Mother’s Son(2009)

-Occupation(2009)

 

James Doran

 

Born Belfast 1967

Effective stage player, whose screen output has, although numerically respectable, been primarily a series of low-key roles. As a student at the National Youth Theatre in London, he made an appearance in the summer of 1985, as the policeman, Shauva, in a full cast production of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’, directed by Edward Wilson and presented at the Jeannette Cochrane Theatre, London.

He emerged in professional theatre in the early nineties with a supporting part in a 1994 revival of Graham Reid’s ‘The Hidden Cirriculum’, directed by David Grant at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. His screen debut, a minor role as loyalist henchman Billy, in Daniel Mornin’s bleak and nasty ‘Nothing Personal’ 1995, set in a violent mid-seventies Belfast, was directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan’ and starred John Lynch and Michael Gambon.

He followed that the same year with an also- starring role in director Ceri Sherlock’s mini budget film ‘Branwen’ and during 1996/97 was busy in local theatre in an eclectic mix of productions. These included Willy Russell’s raucous comedy ‘Stags and Hens’ 1996 and Sam Thompson’s second stage play, ‘The Evangelist’ 1997, both at the Arts Theatre, Belfast and John Steinbeck’s depression set classic tragedy ‘Of Mice and Men’, a Lyric Theatre production during the Belfast Festival at Queens in 1997.

He worked transiently on screen during this period, which included two feature films, ‘A Further Gesture’ aka ‘The Break’ 1997 and Colin Bateman’s satirical comedy ‘Divorcing Jack’ 1998. His association with Dubbeljoint Theatre Company in the late nineties, continued with Brian Campbell’s one- man play ‘Des’ in 2000, based on the clerical life of west Belfast priest, Father Des Wilson. This was followed by ‘The Laughter of Our Children’ 2001 and Brenda Murphy’s ‘Working Class Heroes’ 2002, adapted from Robert Tressell’s ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’ all were performed at the Theatre on the Rock in Belfast. Stereotypical screen roles were sustaining him in gainful employment and included his Father Bradley in director Les Blair’s 1981 hunger strike exposition, ‘H3’ in 2001, Jimmy McGovern’s television film ‘Sunday’ 2002 and in 2003, the musical ‘ The Boys From County Clare’.

In 2003 he also took a modest role in the emotive ‘Holy Cross’, Terry Cafolla’s telling of the events surrounding the gauntlet of abuse experienced by north Belfast Catholic primary schoolgirls during 2001/02. Another Lyric appearance in 2004 saw him as publican, Brendan in Conor McPherson’s award winning, west of Ireland set ‘The Weir’ and that year was behind the bar again in writer/director Terry Loane’s successful comedy- drama ‘Mickybo and Me’ A productive period in theatre in 2006/07 included Damien Gorman’s social drama ‘1974: The End of the Year Show’ at the Lyric in 2006 and Conor Grimes and Alan McKee’s opaque adult comedy ‘The Duke Of Hope’ at the Queen’s Drama and Film Centre, Belfast in 2007.

On stage he was the strutting stock car driver Hammy, in Abbie Spallen’s cynical south Armagh set ‘Pumpgirl’ which premiered  at the Traverse Theatre, during the 2006 Edinburgh Festival, later transferring to the Bush Theatre, London. Further low profile roles from 2008 afforded him no realistic opportunities to impress. He played an IRA kidnapper in writer/director Kari Skogland’s contentious political crime thriller, ‘Fifty Dead Men Walking’ in 2008 and on television was cast as a taxi driver in Terry Cafolla’s even handed ‘Best: His Mother’s Son’, 2009 and was Kingsguard knight, Ser Mandon Moore in an episode of HBO’s immensely popular fantasy drama ‘Game of Thrones’ in 2012. His stage output during 2011/13 was prolific, performing in all of the major theatres in Northern Ireland and other venues besides

. Among a long list of roles were foreman Jimmy Sweeney in a revival of Martin Lynch’s ‘Dockers’ at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, a splendid, jaundiced, ex paramilitary, Paddy in writer Pearse Elliott’s ‘The Christening’, at the Grand Opera House, Belfast, both 2011. In 2012 he portrayed Frank in the Martin Lynch directed political drama, ‘Brothers in Arms’, writer Sam Millar’s contribution to the Ulster Trilogy, performed at St Kevin’s Hall, Belfast in 2012.

He returned to the Grand Opera House later that year for Martin Lynch’s musical drama ‘The Titanic Boys’ and made two appearances in 2013 at the Playhouse Theatre, Derry, first as young Cecil in Gary Mitchell’s ‘Re –energise’ and as the iconic Belfast born goalkeeper and football manager, Elisha Scott in Padraig Coyle’s conversational piece, ‘A Game of Two Halves’. In between he managed an appearance at the Mac Theatre, Belfast in the soul searching, post troubles, ‘Meeting at Menin Gate’, the final instalment in the soi-disant Ulster Trilogy. James Doran all things considered is better than the work offered to him , particularly on screen in recent years where the paucity of meaningful roles has been somewhat disconcerting.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-Bell, Book and Candle(1998) Edinburgh Suite, Europa Hotel, Belfast

-Binlids(1997) Theatre On The Rock, Belfast

-Forced Upon Us(1999) Theatre On The Rock, Belfast

-Observe the Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme(2003) Lyric Theatre, Belfast

-Not a Game For Boys(2011) Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

-Guidelines For a Long and Happy Life(2011) Belfast Festival at Queens

-Titans(2012) site specific, Titanic Building, Belfast

-Herons(2013) Naughton Studio, Lyric Theatre, Belfast

Film

-Fishbowl City(2014)

TV

-Pulling Moves(2004)

-Maru(2009)

-Saor Sinn o Olc(2011)

-Scup(2013)

-Starred Up(2013)

-The Widower(2014)

-Number 2s(2015)

 

 

Richard Dormer

Born Armagh 11th November 1969

Incisive RADA trained actor/playwright with a surfeit of ability, whose range has been tested in a wide variety of role playing since his fortuitous professional stage debut in the title role of ‘Billy Budd’, at the Crucible Sheffield in 1991.

That year also saw him make his first television appearance as Rick Tomlinson in an episode of the hospital drama series ‘Casualty’ and in 1992  his stage career took off in earnest with parts in Michael Harding’s comedy ‘Una Pooka’ at the Tricycle Kilburn and Antoine O’Flatharta’s ‘Silverlands’ at The Abbey, Dublin.

Low value television appearances followed and he had to wait until his performance in Naomi Wallace‘s ‘In The Heart of America‘ at the Bush Theatre, London in 1994 for the first realistic opportunity in two years to enhance his stage reputation.

He had another significant role that year in ’Beautiful Thing’at the Duke Of Yorks, London, before his low key film debut in Belfast born writer Ronan Bennett’s IRA themed drama, ‘A Further Gesture’ 1997, starring Stephen Rea.

He returned to Belfast theatre in the late nineties with leads in two Lyric Productions, Colin Teenan’s ‘IPH’, Tom Murphy’s Pinteresque ‘Whistle in the Dark’ and at the Old Museum Arts Centre he was in his element in the black comedy ‘Criminal Genius’, all 1999.

He was more fortunate in the standard of his screen work from 2000, although still rooted in the wrong half of the credit lists he at  least experienced a higher level of product quality and included director Gillies McKinnon’s ‘The Escapist’ and the rural Irish set thriller ‘The Mapmaker’, both 2001.

If proof were needed as to his acting/writing credentials, then look no further than his tour de force performance as the capricious, former world snooker champion Alex Higgins, in the award winning one man show ‘Hurricane’ presented by his own Ransom Productions and directed by his wife Rachel O’Riordan.

After a scintillating premiere at the Old Museum Arts Centre in 2002 and an Irish/British Tour, which included a London run, the play opened at the East 59th St. Theatre in New York in 2004.

In between he picked up a deserved Irish Times Best Actor Award for his portrayal of Pyper, in Frank McGuinness’WWI masterpiece ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme’ at the Lyric Theatre in 2003.

In 2005 he accepted a small role as a comedian in director Stephen Frears’ indifferent, Mermaid Theatre story ‘Mrs. Henderson Presents’, but rescued the year with some sterling stage work, which included a customary impassioned discharge as Tom Wingfield in the Lyric’s production  of Tennessee William’s ‘The Glass Menagerie’.

The following year he was recruited by The Peter Hall Company for a series of classic and modern plays, the most laudable of which was Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ at the New Ambassadors, with a most worthy contribution by him as the whimpering slave, Lucky. An artfully balanced mix of projects on both stage and screen during 2009/11 served notice of his burgeoning range. In his own splendidly manic comedy, ‘The Gentlemen’s Tea-Drinking Society’, he was outstanding as off-the-wall physicist Brian, in a Ransom Productions presentation at the Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast in 2009.

A year later at the Library Theatre, Manchester he was again in top form as hot-shot real estate salesman Richard Roma, in David Mamet’s acclaimed lesson in unethical practices, ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’. In 2011 he produced an unerringly credible performance as investigative reporter Chris Moore, in writer/director Michael McDowell’s disturbingly factual, ‘Brendan Smyth: Betrayal of Trust’.

He was much in demand on screen from 2012 and in 2013 gave a wonderful characterization of Terri Hooley, Belfast born record producer and standard bearer of Irish punk in the late 70s, in the Colin Carberry/Glenn Patterson , co-written biopic ‘Good Vibrations’. This was followed by a run of feature films and included writer/director Gerard Johnson’s crime drama ‘Hyena’ and a leading role in Yann Demange’s Belfast set, troubles thriller ’71’, both 2014.  In 2105 he took another lead credit, appearing as Sheriff Dan Anderssen in the Simon Donald created psychological thriller series ‘Fortitude’, set in Arctic Norway and co-starring Stanley Tucci.

Richard Dormer may in the future, with space and time, find more options in theatre and less valued projects on screen, if indeed this proves the case, it will only enhance the reputation of an already respected stage performer.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-A Minute of Your Time(2005) Queen’s Festival Belfast

-Miss Julie(2006) Theatre Royal Bath

-Measure For Measure(2006) RSC Courtyard Theatre, Stratford

-This Piece Of Earth(2007) Old Museum Arts Centre Belfast

Film

-Middletown(2006)

-Ghost Machine(2010)

-Dark Touch(2013)

-Shooting for Socrates(2014)

-11 Minutes(2015)

TV

-Soldier Soldier(1992)

-My Boy Jack(2007)

-Last Man Hanging(2008)

-Five Minutes of Heaven(2009)

-Justice(2011)

-Hidden(2011)

-Hunted(2012)

 

 

Roma  Downey

Born Derry 6th May 1960

Alluring TV charged leading actor whose career course was transformed when she landed the role of Monica in the CBS series ‘ Touched by an Angel’ 1994. It was hardly meaty drama but served a purpose, reaching a huge audience hungry for simple honeyed plots with upbeat endings.

A former student at the London Drama Studio during 1983/84, where she did not go unnoticed in productions such as ’Uncle Vanya’, ’Saved’ and ’King Lear’. Then as a professional actor she made a number of appearances on the London Fringe circuit  in the mid-eighties, taking feature roles in ‘ Letters Home’ at New Inn, and ‘ The Love of Don Perlimplin’ and ‘ Belisa’ at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Arriving in New York in 1986, she wasted little time before securing roles in ’Pygmalion’  at  Syracuse Stage and more importantly that of Emilia in the1987 Off- Broadway Armory Theatre production of ‘Tamara’.

In 1988 she made her television debut as Lady Johanna Leighton in ABC’s inexhaustible soap ‘One Life To Live’ and the following year appeared in three Broadway plays, the highlight of which was ‘The Circle’, best remembered as Rex Harrison’s farewell to American theatre. A personal ambition was realised in 1991 when she was enlisted by the Abbey Players for the role of Pegeen Mike during their tour of America with ‘ Playboy of the Western World ‘, receiving a Helen Hayes Best Actress nomination for her performance.

She was now receiving attention from the television networks and was signed by NBC to play  Jackie Kennedy in the mini series ‘ A Woman Named Jackie’ 1991. A year later she co-starred in the television movie ’Getting Up And Going Home’ and after two years of much of the same she was approached by CBS who offered her the potentially career making role of Monica in the upcoming series ‘ Touched By An Angel’, which subsequently aired in September 1994. She was still able to work outside of the series and in 1995 appeared in her first feature film as Roxy in director Tony Spiridakis’ crime drama ‘The Last Word’. Further television work in the late nineties included ’Borrowed Hearts’ 1997 and ’A Secret Life’ 1999. Her second film ‘Funky Monkey’ 2004, which she also co-produced, was at least a change from the television movie conveyor belt.

In 2007 she took a starring role as Miss Fischer in Jeffrey Hatcher’s Vichy France set ‘A Picasso’ at the Geffen Playhouse Los Angeles and in 2009 a median credit in director Mark Jean’s small screen drama ‘Keeping Up With The Randalls’. Roma Downey may have, despite her lightweight television past, at least one more opportunity to prove her ability beyond the nine year purple patch of ‘Touched By An Angel’.

 

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-Never In My Lifetime(1987) Hartman Theatre

-Stamford CT, Aristocrats(1989) Manhattan Theatre Club

-Love’s Labour’s Lost(1989) Newman Theatre, New York

-Ghosts(1989) Roundabout Theatre, New York

Film

Son of God(2014)

TV

-Devlin(1992)

-Diagnosis Murder(1993)

-A Child is Missing(1995)

-The Survivors Club(2004)

-The Bible(2013)

 

Bee (Beatrice) Duffell

Born Belfast 17th April 1914

Died Surrey 21st December 1974

Diminutive but formidable multipurpose actor, a founder member of the revolutionary Group Players in the early forties and appeared in one of the first productions, St. John Ervine’s rural melodrama ‘Boyd’s Shop’ in 1940.

She was however active on the Belfast stage as a teenager, appearing as Sally in Richard Rowley’s one act drama ‘The Last Coyne of Kinnehalla’ at the Central  Hall in 1933.

During the war years she was a hard working eager beaver in the company’s inexorable rise to reverence with prominent roles in such productions as Patricia O’Connor’s’ ‘Highly Efficient’ 1942 and ‘Select Vestry’ 1945.

Notable among her last appearances at the Group was in the role of Marie McCombe, in Cecil Cree’s drama, ‘The House That Jack Built’ 1948, which suggested more than a hint of fondness for street- wise characters with hearts of gold.

Her first film appearance was uncredited , in writer/director Desmond Leslie’s Dublin set crime drama ‘Stranger at My Door’ 1950 but following this she did very little screen work until her 1956 television debut as Mrs Gilhooly in an episode of the long running series ‘Douglas Fairbanks Junior Presents’.  The same year her  stage interest was maintained with a West End appearance in George Bernard Shaw’s drama ‘The Doctor’s Dilemma’ at The Saville Theatre.

Two better credited film roles followed, the first in the 1957 small budget mystery thriller, ‘The Girl in the Picture’ and a decent cameo as Mrs. Farrell in ‘A Night to Remember’ 1958, Roy Ward Baker’s acclaimed and factually accurate account of the Titanic disaster.

During the early sixties her film appearances were nothing more than peripheral, with two low key film roles in 1963, the less insulting of which was her roly poly nun  in director Philip Leacock’s BAFTA award nominated comedy  ‘Tamahine’ but the highlight of that year was undoubtedly her return to the Belfast stage in Sam Thompson’s forgotten classic ‘The Evangelist’, at the Grand Opera House.

In 1966 she appeared with fellow Ulster actor Arthur Cox in the Francois Truffaut directed ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and was able to sustain a reasonable work rate in the late sixties, guesting in television series as disparate as ‘The Prisoner’ and ‘The Trouble Shooters’ both 1967 and ‘Z Cars’  1969.

Her big screen output during this period was restricted to limited dialogue bit parts, exemplified by roles such as Mrs. Dobson, in Nigel Kneale’s intelligent sci-fi film ‘Quatermass and the Pit’ 1967 and following another fleeting glimpse in the 1969 film drama ‘The Picasso Summer’, she made her own mark in theatre history, when in 1970 she appeared as the irritating  Mrs Boyle in the sempiternal gold mine ‘The Mouse Trap’, at the Ambassadors London, then into its eighteenth year.

Her final film role was as the old crone, in Terry Gilliam’s ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ 1975, released a year after her death, obviously not the swansong she would have hoped for but even at the relatively young age of sixty, her career, perhaps undeservedly was in terminal decline.

Other theatre and film credits:

Theatre

-Borderwine(1946) Group Theatre Belfast

-Live in Peace(1950) Bristol Old Vic

-The Passing Day(1951) Ambassadors Theatre, London

-Little Me(1964) Cambridge Theatre London

-Clope(1967) International Theatre Club

-The Daughter-In -Law(1969) Queens Theatre, Hornchurch

Film

-On the Run(1963)

-Wonderwall(1968)

 

Adrian Dunbar

Born Enniskillen 1st August 1958

Urbane and sardonic leading man whose career began in Irish theatre with the Abbey and Lyric Players in the early eighties. He was a Guildhall School of Music and Drama student from 1977 and made an early professional appearance as Donal Davoran in ‘Shadow of a Gunman’ at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 1980.

He joined a strong cast including Stella McCusker and Denys Hawthorne for his Lyric debut in Graham Reid’s ‘The Hidden Curriculum’ in 1982 and at the same theatre was in the 1983 production of ‘Yeats in Limbo’, directed by Sam McCready.

In 1984 he appeared in a rash of locally themed television plays such as ‘After You’ve Gone’, ‘The Cry’ and Anne Devlin’s ‘The Long March’. On stage at the Lyric that year he played Stanley in Harold Pinter’s ‘The Birthday Party’ and had two median credits in Edward Bond’s ‘The Pope’s Wedding’ and the censorship breaking ‘Saved’.

His film debut in the frivolous ‘Sky Bandits’ 1986, saw him in the bowels of the credit list in a cast of largely unknowns but he had a more considerable stage role in the star cast laden ‘The Danton Affair’, presented by the RSC at the Barbican the same year.

Film work in the late eighties included ‘The Dawning’ 1988 and the Christie Brown biopic ‘My Left Foot’ 1989 and in 1991 he made the anticipated breakthrough, co-writing and starring in the Joseph Locke inspired ‘Hear My Song’ which enjoyed a high level of international success.

A proliferation of big screen activity quickly followed and included Neil Jordan’s ‘The Crying Game’ 1992 ‘Widow’s Peak’ 1994 and on television, leading roles in ‘A Woman’s Guide To Adultery’ 1993,  ‘The Blue Boy’ 1994 and ‘Cruel Train’ 1995.

He worked sporadically on stage during the nineties, most notably in the National Theatre’s 1997 production of the musical play, ‘Lady In The Dark’ at the Lyttleton and in 1998 co-starred as Noel Curley in John Boorman’s feature film ‘The General’, depicting the life and times of Dublin master criminal, Martin Cahill.

He devoted more time to theatre from 2000, with appearances at the Watergate Kilkenny in ‘Judas’ 2000, ‘Conversations on a Homecoming’, first at the Lyric Belfast and then the Gaiety Dublin 2002 and ‘The Shaughhraun’ at the Abbey in 2004.

Screen highlights included Colin Bateman’s romantic comedy ‘Wild About Harry’ 2000, ‘Shooters’ 2002 , a pinpoint accurate selfish father in Mickybo and Me’ 2004  and on television ‘Kidnapped’ and ‘The Quatermass Experiment’, both 2005.

In 2006 he was in another National Theatre production at The Cottesloe, playing Robert Hand in James Joyce’s only play ‘Exiles’ and that year had a starring role in director Michael D. Sellers’ rather humdrum film ‘Eye of the Dolphin,’ featuring a cast of veritable lesser lights. Two Years later, in what was the furthest he has ever travelled to work, he co-starred  as Parish Priest Philip Connolly, alongside fellow Enniskillen native Ciaran McMenamin in writer/director Michael James Rowlands’ harrowing early nineteenth century Tasmania set factual drama, ‘The Last Confession Of Alexander Pearce’ 2008.

On television in 2009 he made multiple appearances as the dying, former police officer Martin Summers in the disappointing ‘Ashes To Ashes’, a somewhat lacklustre sequel to the more imaginative ‘Life On Mars’. Then, after what was a surprising absence of three years, he made a winning return to the stage, taking the central role of Knacker, the alcoholic tramp in Marie Jones’ localised drama ‘Rock Doves’, a Rathmore Productions presentation at the Waterfront Studios, Belfast in April 2010. He added to his television profile during 2012/14 with a couple of leading credits. He was Superintendent Ted Hastings in Jed Mercurio’s police drama series ‘Line of Duty’  and in director Damon Thomas’ 2014 comedy/drama ‘Walter’, played another policeman, DI Walter Gambon, though this time to less acclaim.

At the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin in 2015, he was in great form, striding the stage as Tommy, in a Dublin Theatre Festival revival of Conor McPherson’s tenebrose and edgy comedy of menace, ‘The Night Alive’.

Adrian Dunbar’s route to relative stardom has been unhurried and judicious and retrospectively perhaps in his work selection, more than a little too guarded.

Other Theatre, Film and TV credits:

Theatre

-Stuffing It(1982) Tricycle Theatre, London

-Ghosts(1986) Young Vic, London

-Pentecost(1989) Lyric Belfast

-King Lear(1992) Royal Court, London

-The Tower(1995) Almeida London

-Boeing Boeing(2007) Comedy Theatre London

-Brendan At The Chelsea(2007) Riverside Studios London

Film

-Dealers(1989)

-The Playboys(1992)

-Richard III(1995)

-Act Of God(2009)

TV

-Relative Strangers(1999)

-Whistleblowers(2008)

-Mo(2010)

-A Touch Of Frost(2010)

-Jo(2013)

-A Touch of Cloth(2014)

 

Eithne Dunne

Born Belfast 1919

Died Dublin 22nd December 1988 

Punctilious and authoritative actor, who was a regular in Dublin theatre from the late thirties and in one of her earliest appearances at the Abbey in 1939, played Findmor in Daniel Corkery’s ‘Fohnam the Sculptor’ and enjoyed other notable Abbey successes in the early forties, including Gerard Healy’s ‘Thy Dear Father’ and Paul Vincent Carroll’s melodrama ‘The Wise Have Not Spoken’, with Cyril Cusack and Denis O’Dea.

In 1946 Michael MacLiammoir invited her to play Catherine  Mallaroe in his Gate Theatre production of ‘Ill  Met by Moonlight’ and later that year she took another step towards stardom, when making her Broadway debut at the Booth Theatre, as Pegeen Mike, in Synge’s ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, earning a surfeit of favourable reviews.

At the Abbey in 1950 she appeared as Dulaca in Austin Clarke’s medieval Gaelic fantasy ‘The Plot Succeeds’ and the following year made her first film appearance as Meg Kyle in writer/director Paul Rotha’s rural Irish drama ‘No Resting Place’.

Her first television role was credited as Doll, in an episode of ‘Douglas Fairbanks Junior Presents’ in 1955 and on the Dublin stage a year later, was lending gravitas to the Gate’s production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’.

Eithne Dunne presented as a matronly figure in her forties and subsequent theatre and screen work saw her cast in roles sympathetic to such inflection and deportment, most obviously in her minor role as Eileen O’Leary, in the Irish produced feature film ‘Shake Hands With the Devil’ 1959.

Another career highpoint was the 1960 Abbey touring production of ‘The Playboy of the Western World’, with an itinerary which included a West End presentation at the Piccadilly Theatre and a cast boasting the queen of Irish theatre, Siobhan McKenna. She was resident at Bristol Old Vic during 1963, exercising her stage craft in a mixture of classics and new work which included ’Henry V’, ’Othello’, ’All In Good Time’ and ’The Rivals’.  In a flurry of activity during the mid to late sixties she appeared in Arnold Sundgaard’s ‘Forests of the Night’ at the Gate Dublin in 1965 and had small roles in two quality television plays, ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ 1965 and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ 1967.

The last contract with her beloved  Abbey was in 1971, when she gave two consummate performances, first in Tom Murphy’s ‘The Morning After Optimism’ with Colin Blakely and in the summer of that year took the role of  Mother in Jack White’s ‘Today the Bullfinch’, co-starring with the redoubtable Harry Brogan, which gave further endorsement to her undoubted stage ability.

However she was luckless on screen and a wasteful end to an uneven film career came in Jack Cardiff’s final directorial effort ‘The Mutations’, which was nothing short of risible and in which mercifully she was seen only fleetingly in the role of a nurse.

Eithne Dunne had the potential to be a great theatre player in the Irish tradition, but in retrospect mediocre film work in the early fifties caused an unnecessary interruption in an otherwise productive career.

 Other Theatre and Film credits:

 Theatre

-Strange Guest(1940) Abbey Theatre, Dublin

-Remembered Forever(1941) Abbey Theatre, Dublin

-The Coloured Balloon(1944) Abbey Theatre, Dublin

-No More Culture(1944) Olympia Theatre, Dublin

-Ironhand(1963) Bristol Old Vic

-The Physicists(1963) Bristol Old Vic

-The Cherry Orchard(1965) Bristol Old Vic

-The Life of Galileo(1965) Little Theatre, Bristol

-Dear Liar(1966) Birmingham Repertory Theatre

-The Seagull(1967) Bristol Old Vic

-Love’s Labour’s Lost(1969) Liverpool Playhouse

-A Yard of Sun(1970) Nottingham Playhouse

 Film

-She Didn’t Say No!(1958)

TV

-Candida(1967)