Lyric Theatre

From Drawing Room To Hayloft, To Legitimate Theatre:

70 Years of premieres, adaptations and single noteworthy revivals.  A comparative chronological history in 300 plays, performed at all three sites of the Lyric Theatre, Belfast from 1951 to 2021.

 

1950s

Inaugural presentation at Ulsterville House, Belfast in March 1951.

Three plays: The Lost Light (Robert Farren) At the Hawks Well (W.B. Yeats) The Kiss (Austin Clarke)

1952 At Ulsterville House. Three Plays: Before Breakfast (Eugene O’Neill) Princely Fortune (Adaptation from Chinese) The Swansong (Anton Chekhov)

November 1952, moved to Derryvolgie Avenue, Belfast.

First production: Icaro (Lauro De Bosis) November 1952.

March 1954: Premiere The Falcons in the Snare (Elizabeth Boyle)

October 1954: Hamlet (W. Shakespeare)

February 1955: Oedipus the King (Adaptation from Sophocles)

March 1955: The Family Robinson (T.S. Eliot)

May 1955: The Frogs (Adaptation from Aristophanes)

May 1955: The Tempest (W. Shakespeare)

September 1955: The Tragedy of King Lear (W. Shakespeare)

Month? 1956: Under Milkwood (Adaptation Dylan Thomas)

May 1956: The Dark is Light Enough (Christopher Fry)

November 1956: The House of Bernarda Alba (Frederica Garcia Lorca)

December 1956: The Children of Lir (Joy Rudd)

November 1957: Medea (Adaptation Robinson Jeffers)

April 1958: The Silver Tassie (Sean O’Casey)

February 1959: Oedipus (Adaptation W.B. Yeats)

February 1959: Conversations in Florence (Maurice Farley)

 

 

1960s

October 1960: Lady Spider (Donagh McDonagh)

November 1960: Mary Stuart (Friedrich Schiller)

December 1960: The Heart’s a Wonder (Musical adaptation Maureen Charlton and Nuala O’Farrell)

June 1961: The Player Queen (W.B.Yeats)

October 1961: The Dreaming Dust (Denis Johnston)

December 1961: Many Young Men of Twenty (J.B. Keane)

December 1961: The Sun Child (John H. Pollock)

January 1962: Carmelites (Georges Bernanos)

December 1962: Romance of an Idiot (Criostoir O’Flynn)

February 1963: La ‘Fheile (Eoghan O’Tuairisc)

November 1963: Endgame (Samuel Beckett)

October 1964: The Blind Mice (Brian Friel)

November 1964: The Beggar’s Opera (Musical-John Gay and Christoph Pepusch)

March 1965: Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Eugene O’Neill)

December 1965: The Fantasticks (Musical adaptation- Tom Jones)

January 1966: A Month in the Country (J.L. Carr)

May 1966: The Plough and the Stars (Sean O’Casey)

September 1966: The Field (John B. Keane)

September 1966: Heartbreak House (G.B. Shaw)

October 1966: The Lower Depths (Maxim Gorky)

November 1966: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Edward Albee)

November 1966: The Shaughraun (Dion Boucicault)

February 1967: That Woman At Rathard (Sam Hanna Bell)

April 1967: Premiere The Green Desert (Patrick Hughes)

May 1967: The Tragedy of King Richard II (William Shakespeare)

June 1967: Three Plays: The Words Upon the Window Pane-Deirdre-A Full Moon in March (W. B. Yeats)

August 1967: Smock Alley (Maureen Charlton)

September 1967: The Enemy Within (Brian Friel)

September 1967: The Shadow of a Gunman (Sean O’Casey)

October 1967: Breakdown (Eugene McCabe)

December 1967: Nathan the Wise (Gotthold Ephraim Lessing)

January 1968: The Wild Duck (Henrik Ibsen)

March 1968: The Promise (Aleksei Arbuzov)

May 1968: Six Plays: Including last production at Derryvolgie Avenue The Resurrection (All W.B. Yeats)

First production at new site in Ridgeway Street, Belfast on 28th October 1968. The Cuchulain Cycle (W.B. Yeats)

November 1968: The Seagull (Anton Chekhov)

December 1968: A Penny for a Song (John Whiting)

January 1969: The Royal Hunt of the Sun (Peter Shaffer)

April 1969: Pictures in the Hallway (Adaptation- Patrick Funge)

April 1969: The School for Scandal (Richard Brinsley Sheridan)

May 1969: The Quare Fellow (Brendan Behan)

June 1969: Sive (John B. Keane)

August 1969: Juno and the Paycock (Sean O’Casey)

September 1969: The Alchemist (Ben Jonson)

October 1969: Luther (John Osborne)

November 1969: Phaedra (Annaeus Seneca)

December 1969: Candida (G.B. Shaw)

December 1969: She Stoops to Conquer (Oliver Goldsmith)

 

1970s

March 1970: The Magistrate (Arthur Wing Pinero)

April 1970: Over the Bridge (Sam Thompson)

June 1970: Lovers (Brian Friel)

September 1970: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard)

October 1970: The Becauseway (Wesley Burrowes)

November 1970: Peer Gynt (Henrik Ibsen)

December 1970: Death of a Salesman (Arthur Miller)

March 1971: The Dance of Death (Adaptation-Elizabeth Sprigge-August Strindberg)

March 1971: Premiere The Flats- Belfast 1971 (John Boyd)

August 1971: John Bull’s Other Island (G. B. Shaw)

October 1971: King of the Castle (Eugene McCabe)

December 1971: The Importance of Being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)

January 1972: Premiere The Lads (Joe O’Donnell)

April 1972: Danton’s Death (Georg Buchner)

May 1972: Premiere The Farm (John Boyd)

June 1972: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Bertolt Brecht)

September 1972: Within Two Shadows (Wilson John Haire)

September 1972: Lady Windermere’s Fan (Oscar Wilde)

November 1972: The Gentle Island (Brian Friel)

December 1972: Man of La Mancha (Musical- Dale Wasserman)

February 1973: Two Plays- A Swansong (Anton Chekhov) A Dream Play (August Strindberg)

March 1973: Purple Dust (Sean 0’Casey)

May 1973: Arms and the Man (G.B. Shaw)

July 1973: Premiere Nightfall to Belfast (Patrick Galvin)

September 1973: The Ruling Class (Peter Barnes)

October 1973: Saint Joan (G.B:.Shaw)

December 1973: The School For Wives (Adaptation- Richard Wilbur-Moliere)

January 1974 Jesus Christ Superstar (Musical -Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice)

March 1974: Within the Gates (Sean O’Casey)

June 1974: Schweyk the Second (Bertolt Brecht)

June 1974: Da (Hugh Leonard)

July 1974: Premiere The Last Burning (Patrick Galvin)

September 1974: Premiere Guests (John Boyd)

October 1974: A Man for All Seasons (Robert Bolt)

February 1975: Romersholm (Henrik Ibsen)

March 1975: Premiere It Would Be Funny (If It Wasn’t So Bloody Ridiculous) (Tom Coffey)

May 1975: Premiere We Do It For Love (Musical- Patrick Galvin)

August 1975: The Beaux Stratagem (George Farquhar)

September 1975: The Playboy of the Western World (J.M. Synge)

October 1975: Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)

November 1975: Cock-A-Doodle Dandy (Sean O’Casey)

December 1975: The Good Natured Man (Oliver Goldsmith)

December 1975: Innish (Musical- Adaptation-Fergus Linehan and Jim Doherty)

February 1976: The Risen People (James Plunkett)

March 1976: The Loves of Cass Maguire (Brian Friel)

August 1976: King Oedipus & Oedipus At Colonus (Adaptation W.B. Yeats)

September 1976: Ah, Wilderness! (Eugene O’Neill)

October 1976: Philadelphia Here I Come! (Brian Friel)

November 1976: Henry IV, Part 1 (William Shakespeare)

December 1976: A Little Night Music (Musical- Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler and Patrick Quentin)

February 1977: The Gathering (Edna O’Brien)

March 1977: Premiere The Street (John Boyd)

April 1977: Mother Courage and Her Children (Bertolt Brecht)

May 1977: Black Man’s Country (Desmond Forristal)

May 1977: Premiere The Rise and Fall of Barney Kerrigan (Frank Dunne)

September 1977: The Whiteheaded Boy (Lennox Robinson)

October 1977: All My Sons (Arthur Miller)

December 1977: The Colleen Bawn (Dion Boucicault)

February 1978: Uncle Vanya (Anton Chekhov)

March 1978: Premiere Europe (Dominic Behan)

April 1978: Filumena (Eduardo De Fillipo)

April 1978: Talbot’s Box (Thomas Kilroy)

June 1978: Equus (Peter Shaffer)

October 1978: The Evangelist (Sam Thompson)

December 1978: Grease (Musical-Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey)

March 1979: Premiere Facing North (John Boyd)

April 1979: Premiere The Second Life of Tatenberg Camp (Joseph Long)

May 1979: Whose Life Is It Anyway (Brian Clarke)

June 1979: Once a Catholic (Mary O’Malley)

August 1979: Jacko (John McArdle)

August 1979: Two Plays-The Shadowy Waters and The Herne’s Egg (W.B. Yeats)

December 1979: Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living In Paris (Musical- Eric Blau and Mort Shuman)

 

1980s

March 1980: Hobson’s Choice (Harold Brighouse)

April 1980: The Drums of Father Ned (Sean O’Casey)

April 1980: Premiere Dark Rosaleen (Vincent Mahon)

May 1980: The Death of Dracula (Warren Graves)

June 1980: Marat Sade (Peter Weiss)

September 1980: Bent (Martin Sherman)                  

November 1980: Premiere Heritage (Adaptation-Tommy McArdle and Eugene McCabe)

January 1981: Premiere Dockers (Martin Lynch)

March 1981: Premiere Victims (Eugene McCabe)

April 1981: Premiere Old Days (Frank Dunne)

May 1981: Premiere My Silver Bird (Patrick Galvin)

August 1981: You Never Can Tell (G.B. Shaw)

September 1981: Two Plays- The Unicorn From the Stars and Cathleen ni Houlihan (W.B.Yeats)

November 1981: Julius Caesar (William Shakespeare)

December 1981: Hello Dolly (Musical-Jerry Herman)

February 1982: John Gabriel Borkman (Henrik Ibsen)

April 1982: Premiere Speranza’s Boy (John Boyd)

May 1982: Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Dario Fo)

August 1982: I Do Not Like Thee Doctor Fell (Bernard Farrell)

October 1982: Premiere A Touch of Class (Adaptation Leon- Rubin and Martine Garbacz)

November 1982: Premiere Kingdom Come (Stewart Parker)

January 1983: Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare)

February 1983: Cider With Rosie (Laurie Lee)

March 1983: When the Wind Blows (Raymond Briggs)

April 1983: The Hidden Curriculum (Graham Reid)

May 1983: Premiere Indian Summer (Jennifer Johnston)

June 1983: Premiere Castles in the Air (Martin Lynch)

June 1983: Premiere Yeats in Limbo (Sam McCready)

September 1983: Educating Rita (Willy Russell)

November 1983: Premiere Tea in a China Cup (Jennifer Johnston)

January 1984: Pygmalion (G.B. Shaw)

May 1984: Mrs McConaghy’s Money (Hugh Quinn)

October 1984: Premiere Remembrance (Graham Reid)

November 1984: Premiere Northern Star (Stewart Parker)

December 1984: Annie (Musical Adaptation- Thomas Meehan)

January 1985: Horseman Pass By (Daniel Magee)

April 1985: Catholics (Brian Moore)

May 1985: A Doll’s House (Henrik Ibsen)

May 1985: One for the Road (Willy Russell)

May 1985: The Birthday Party (Harold Pinter)

November 1985: Premiere Minstrel Boys (Martin Lynch)

January 1986: The Comedy of Errors (William Shakespeare)

February 1986: Double Cross (Thomas Kilroy)

February 1986: Translations (Brian Friel)

March 1986: A Moon for the Misbegotten (Eugene O’Neill)

April 1986: Joyriders (Christina Reid)

April 1986: The Millionairess (G. B. Shaw)

August 1986: Three Plays- King of the Great Tower, Purgatory and Resurrection (W.B. Yeats)

October 1986: Dear Aunt: (Julia Jones)

October 1986: What the Butler Saw ( Joe Orton)

November 1986: Premiere Summer Class (John Boyd)

December 1986: Much Ado About Nothing (Musical Adaptation- Gilbert and Sullivan-William Shakespeare)

January 1987: Mumbo Jumbo (Robin Glendinning)

October 1987: Orphans (Lyle Kessler)

November 1987: The Road to Mecca (Athol Fugard)

February 1988: Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)

March 1988: Two Plays- An Giall (The Hostage) and Purgatory (Brendan Behan and W.B. Yeats-Adapatation Lorcan 0’Treasaigh)

April 1988: Somewhere Over the Balcony (Marie Jones)

May 1988: Mrs Warren’s Profession (G.B.Shaw)

October 1988: Premiere Culture Vultures (Robin Glendinning)

December 1988: A Christmas Carol (Adaptation John Boyd- William Shakespeare)

January 1989: After the Fall (Arthur Miller)

February 1989: Comedians (Trevor Griffiths)

May 1989: Premiere The Belle of Belfast City (Christina Reid)

June 1989: Potestad (Adaptation- David Graham- Young)

October 1989: Tartuffe Today (Adaptation John D. Stewart- Moliere)

November 1989: Premiere Charlie Gorilla (John McClelland)

December 1989: The Little Shop of Horrors (Musical- Howard Ashman and Alan Menken)

 

1990s

January 1990: The Iceman Cometh (Eugene O’Neill)

March 1990: Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme (Frank McGuinness)

October 1990: The Cure at Troy (Adaptation Seamus Heaney –Sophocles)

December 1990: Oliver Twist (Charles Dickens)

January 1991: Rebecca (Adaptation Clifford Williams)

April 1991: Premiere Rough Beginnings (Robert Ellison)

April 1991: Noises Off (Michael Frayn)

November 1991: Premiere Pygmies in the Ruins (Ron Hutchinson)

January 1992: Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)

November 1992: Premiere Round the Big Clock (John Boyd)

May 1993: Put That Light Out (Therese Donnelly)

September 1993: Premiere How Many Miles to Babylon? (Jennifer Johnston)

November 1993: An Ideal Husband (Oscar Wilde)

February 1994: A Life (Hugh Leonard)

March 1994: The Taming of the Shrew (William Shakespeare)

March 1994: Premiere Galloping Buck Jones (Ken Bourke)

April 1994: Premiere Pictures of Tomorrow (Martin Lynch)

June 1994: Volunteers (Brian Friel)

July 1994: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (Musical-Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice)

August 1994: The Vinegar Fly (Nick Perry)

November 1994: After Easter (Anne Devlin)

November 1994: Premiere The Private Picture Show (Owen McCafferty)

December 1994: The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Graham)

May 1995: Brothers of the Brush (Jimmy Murphy)

September 1995: Premiere Lengthening Shadows (Graham Reid)

October 1995: Women on the Verge of HRT (Marie Jones)

February 1996: Premiere Drive On (Bill Morrison)

March 1996: Animal Farm (George Orwell)

April 1996: Dancing at Lughnasa (Brian Friel)

September 1996: Skylight (David Hare)

October 1996: Premiere The Desert Lullaby (Jennifer Johnston)

February 1997: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare)

October 1997: A Little World of Our Own (Gary Mitchell)

November 1997: Of Mice and Men (John Steinbeck)

November 1997: There Was an Old Woman (Musical –David Wood)

March 1998: Premiere Tearing the Loom (Gary Mitchell)

November 1998: Premiere Getting the Picture (David Powell)

January 1999: Brilliant Traces (Cindy Lou Johnson)

February 1999: A Whistle in the Dark (Tom Murphy)

March 1999: Premiere Iph… (Colin Teevan)

June 1999: Stones in his Pockets (Marie Jones)Jones)

 

2000s

March 2000: Premiere The Butterfly of Killybegs (Brian Foster)

June 2000: Premiere Marching On (Gary Mitchell)

November 2000: Premiere La Chunga (Adaptation- David Johnstone-Mario Vargas Llosa)

April 2001: As the Beast Sleeps (Gary Mitchell)

September 2001: Shopping and F…ing (Mark Ravenhill)

February 2002: The Factory Girls (Frank McGuinness)

June 2002: A Night in November (Marie Jones)

March 2002: Premiere McCool XXL (Musical- Paul Boyd)

April 2002: Conversations on a Homecoming (Tom Murphy)

June 2003: The Blind Fiddler of Glenadauch (Marie Jones)

September 2003: Premiere Ghosts (Conall Morrison)

February 2004: The Weir (Conor McPherson)

June 2004: Premiere Paradise (Padraig Coyle, Alan McKee and Conor Grimes)

June 2005: Premiere A Very Weird Manor (Marie Jones)

November 2005: Premiere The Snow Queen (Adaptation-Richard Croxford-Hans Christian Andersen)

December 2005: Premiere Merry Christmas Betty Ford (Conor Mitchell)

January 2006: Premiere 1974 -The End of the Year Show (Damian Gorman)

February 2007: Much Ado About Nothing (William Shakespeare)

March 2007: Premiere To Be Sure (Tim Loane)

September 2007: Premiere The Hyperchondriact (Adaptation-David Johnston-Moliere)

November 2007: The Wizard of Oz (Musical Adaptation- Frank L. Baum) Last Production before reconstruction

October 2009: The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Martin McDonagh) Presented at the Elmwood Hall, Belfast

 

2010s

February 2010: Premiere The Absence of Women (Owen McCafferty) Presented at the Elmwood Hall, Belfast

May 2010: The Miser (Adaptation- David Johnston- Moliere) Presented at the Elmwood Hall, Belfast

May 2011: The Crucible (Arthur Miller) Reopening Production 3rd May at Remodelled Lyric Theatre

September 2011: Premiere The Painkiller (Adaptation Sean Foley- Francis Verber)

April 2012: Premiere The Civilisation Game (Tim Loane)

July 2012: Premiere Molly Wobbly’s T*t Factory (Musical-Paul Boyd)

March 2013: Premiere The Man Jesus (Matthew Hurt)

May 2013: Premiere Love, Billy (Graham Reid)

May 2013: Premiere Can’t Forget About You (David Ireland)

September 2013: Pride and Prejudice: The Musical (Adaptation-Richard Croxford and Mark Dougherty-Jane Austen)

October 2013: Brendan at the Chelsea (Janet Behan)

May 2014: Premiere Demented (Gary Mitchell)

September 2014: Pentecost (Stewart Parker)

November 2014: Premiere Mistletoe and Crime (Marie Jones)

February 2015: Premiere Death of a Comedian (Owen McCafferty)

April 2015: The Pillowman (Donagh McDonagh)

April 2016: Premiere Here Comes the Night (Rosemary Jenkinson)

June 2016: Premiere Smiley (Gary Mitchell)

October 2016: Premiere The Nest (Conor McPherson)

October 2016: Premiere Three Sisters (Adaptation-Lucy Caldwell-Chekhov)

March 2017: Nivelli’s War (Charles Way)

April 2017: Red (John Logan)

May 2017: Sinners (Marie Jones)

June 2017: The Ladykillers (Adaptation -Graham Linehan-William Rose)

October 2017: Premiere Fire Below (A War of Words) – (Owen McCafferty)

February 2018: The Threepenny Opera (Musical- Bertolt Brecht)

May 2018: Lovers: Winners and Losers (Brian Friel)

September 2018: Premiere Good Vibrations (Musical- Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry)

October 2018: Premiere Dear Arabella (Marie Jones)

February 2019: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Musical- Stephen Sondheim)

March 2019: The 39 Steps (Adaptation- Patrick Barlow-John Buchan)

April 2019: Ulster American (David Ireland)

May 2019: A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams)

May 2019: Premiere All Mod Cons (Erica Murray)

 

2020s

February 2020: Kiss Me Kate (Musical- Sam and Bella Spewack -Cole Porter)

March 2021: Sadie (Filmed- David Ireland)

July 2021: Dracula (Adaptation Liz Lochead- Bram Stoker)

September 2021: Premiere Rough Girls (Tara Lynne O’Neill)

 

A Brief Narrative:

The Lyric Players were led by the redoubtable Mary and Pearse 0’Malley, an ardent literati vanguard, promoting the merits of neglected, mostly Irish and on occasion, English classics and against all odds producing respectable works within the confines of their drawing room in Ulsterville House set in leafy South Belfast.

It all began in March 1951, with a three play presentation headed by Robert Farren’s lengthy one-act verse play ‘Lost Light’. A year later and still in South Belfast, but in a much larger space, now located in Derryvolgie Avenue, the Lyric Players Theatre was now afforded the luxury of a converted Hayloft. There they presented an ambitious production of the romantic mytho-political ‘Icaro’, by the Spanish anti-fascist poet, Lauro de Bosis in November 1952.

The earliest recorded premiere was in March 1954, when Elizabeth Boyle’s full dress Elizabethan drama ‘The Falcons in the Snare’ played before a packed house of fifty plus gratified patrons.

Derryvolgie Avenue remained the Lyric’s home until 1968, regularly staging adaptations and revivals , but almost no new writing, with the exception of Patrick Hughes’ 1798 Rebellion themed ‘The Green Desert’ in April 1967. They bade farewell to Derryvolgie Avenue in May 1968, with a six play conglomeration, fittingly ending with W.B.Yeats’ ‘The Resurrection’.

Less than six months later and with a nudge from Mary O’Malley, the production chosen for the grand opening of the new legitimate theatre in Ridgeway Street, Belfast in October 1968, was naturally a selection by W.B. Yeats’, four plays of the ‘Cuchulain Cycle’, directed by herself and featuring old Lyric stalwarts, Louis Rolston, Sam McCready and Kathleen and Alex McClay.

Key productions in the 1970s included John Boyds’ troubles drama ‘The Flats’ (Belfast 1971), which amazingly represented the only new work produced by the theatre, either at Ridgeway Street or Derryvolgie Avenue, since ‘The Green Desert’ in 1967. Further significant plays premiered during the 1970s were largely shared between Belfast born John Boyd and writer in residence, Corkonian Patrick Galvin.

Galvin’s dramas were historical and contemporary and distinctly Irish, with his first commissioned work, ‘Nightfall to Belfast’, upsetting loyalist paramilitaries, who on September 4th 1973, during the final week of an extended run of the overtly political play, planted a bomb under Mary O’Malley’s car, close to the front door of the theatre, partially exploding and causing damage to an outer wall.

John Boyd took the social path, his plotlines with a N. Irish narrative. His follow up to ‘The Flats’ was the emotively weighted ‘The Farm’ in May 1972, starring an outstanding Louis Rolston as shipyard worker and aspirant farmer, Old McCann.

The 1980s would prove to be the most fertile decade, when the Lyric at least made a fist of the boast of being N. Ireland’s major producing theatre. Emerging playwrights such as Martin Lynch, Jennifer Johnston, Christina Reid, Graham Reid and the established John Boyd and Stewart Parker, would confirm there was an appetite for the new form of Ulster plays.

A balanced blend of so called Blue and white collar storylines, with Martin Lynch’s ‘Dockers’ in 1981, easily fitting the former and in 1983, Jennifer Johnston’s pre-partition , Co Cork set ‘Indian Summer’, the latter. John McClelland’s 1989 Belfast Festival at Queen’s offering ‘Charlie Gorilla’, delivered an unapologetic humane message, encapsulating the variety of the genre stretching production line.

Lynch and Johnston continued to produce new writing into the 1990s, Johnston with her WW1 exposition ‘How Many Miles to Babylon? ‘in 1993 and the retrospective ‘Desert Lullaby’ in 1996, featuring a superlative performance by Stella McCusker as the benignly eccentric Flora.

Lynch’s 1994 work ‘Pictures of Tomorrow’, gave him an opportunity to explore other subject matter, although still driven by his inevitable Belfast characterizations.

A new voice was heard at this time, North Belfast born Gary Mitchell, who would later draw inspiration from his Rathcoole origins, but here in a different milieu, saw his 1790  Armagh set, ‘Tearing the Loom’, premiered at the Lyric on St Patrick’s day 1998.

Three premieres in 2000 included Brian Foster’s Donegal set social drama ‘The Butterfly of Killybeggs’ and Gary Mitchell’s no-nonsense ‘Marching On’, as told from a loyalist perspective, with an imposing Sean Caffrey as traditional Orangeman Samuel and Helena Bereen as his wife Shirley.

The last new writing presented before the theatre closed for major restructuring was David Johnston’s adaptation of Moliere’s ‘The Miser, entitled ‘The Hyperchondriac’, staged in September 2007.

Following a protracted three and a half years building programme, the theatre reopened on May 3rd 2011 with Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, his retaliatory McCarthyism allegory, with a cast of nineteen including Patrick O’Kane, Aoife Duffin and Ruairi Conaghan.

In September the same year, Sean Foley’s world premiere of his farce ‘The Painkiller’, adapted from Francis Veber’s comedie noir, ‘Le Contrat’, brought Kenneth Branagh to Belfast in the role of hitman Ralph, opposite Rob Brydon’s depressed photographer, Dudley, ably supported by Stuart Graham as psychiatrist, Dent.

The theatre’s percentage of new plays rose positively from 2012, with a number of estimable comedic productions such as David Ireland’s dark romantic comedy, ‘Can’t Forget About You’ in 2013, Gary Mitchell’s crime comedy ‘Demented’ 2014 and Owen McCafferty’s three handed Faustian study, ‘Death of a Comedian which opened in February 2015.

Another McCafferty premiere in 2017 was his 2017 post troubles, angst in the suburbs, ‘Fire Below’ (A War of Words), set against the backdrop of an eleventh night bonfire in Belfast.

Erica Murray’s social drama ‘All Mod Cons’ in May 2019, was the last new writing produced before the Covid 19 pandemic closed theatres worldwide. The Lyric went dark on the 17th March 2020, reopening on the 27th July 2021, with a revival of Liz Lochhead’s 1985 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. This was followed by actor/writer Tara Lynne O’Neill’s new play, the factual sporting drama, ‘Rough Girls’, which opened in September 2021 and charted the origins of womens football in Ireland, which began during the latter years of WW1.

 

The Principle Players:

Louis Rolston- Patrick Brannigan- John Hewitt-Mark Mulholland-Stella McCusker-Michael Duffy

Jack McQuoid-Alex McClay-George Shane-Margaret D’Arcy-Sheila McGibbon-Desmond McAleer

George Mooney-Maureen Dow-Bill Hunter-Joe McPartland-Trudy Kelly-Doreen Hepburn-JJ Murphy

Maurice O’Callaghan-Zelda Golden-BJ Hogg-Ian McElhinney-Michael Gormley-Stuart Graham-Barbara Adair

Alan Craig-Wesley Murphy-Richard Orr-John Keegan-Lucie Jamieson-Brenda Winter-Liam Neeson-Catherine Gibson

Lawrence Beattie-Liam O’Callaghan-Heather Gibson-Denis Smyth-Gerard Murphy-Peter Balance-Derek Lord

Sean Caffrey-Evin Crowley-Adrian Dunbar-Dan Gordon-Ciaran Hinds-Michael Liebmann-Kate McClay-Frank McQuoid

Fabian Cartwright-Joan Rolston-Linda Wray-Peter Templar-Margaret McCann-Peter Quigley-Sean Kearns-Sheila Flanagan-Sam McCready

Walter McMonagle.

Artistic Directors:

Mary O’Malley 1951-1968

Christopher Fitz-Simon 1968-1969

Peter Jackson 1969-1969

Tomas MacAnna 1969-1973

Michael Poynor 1974-1975

Guest Directors 1976-1977

Tony Dinner 1977-1980

Leon Rubin 1981-1983

Patrick Sandford 1983-1986

Richard Digby Day 1986-1987

Tom Jordan 1987-1988

Roland Jaquarello 1988-1991

Guest Directors 1992-2000

Paula McFettridge 2001-2006

Guest Directors 2007-2007

Richard Croxford 2008-2013

Jimmy Fay 2014