Hilarious rural rom-com ‘Ardnaglass on the Air’ takes to the Stage

ONE of Northern Ireland’s best-loved plays by local County Antrim playwright, Jimmy Kerr, ‘Ardnaglass on the Air’ will run at the Lyric Theatre between Tuesday 14th to Saturday 18th February 2017 and then begin a two-week Northern Irish tour.

This 2017 production has been reworked and is a slapstick comedy focusing on rural community radio broadcasts set in the fictional Ardnaglass, Northern Ireland and includes the themes of love, loneliness and the peculiarities of rural country life along with the slight smell of manure.

So what can the audience expect? Well life on the air can be tough and things aren’t always what they seem.  But are things about to change for presenters Hugh Francis O’Connell and Margaret Mary Rose as a high powered BBC executive is due to visit so could this be their chance to be discovered?  It’s the big day for the ‘Ardnaglass on the Air’ radio show, what could possibly go wrong?

The production, directed by c21 Theatre Company’s co-founder, Stephen Kelly, with Tom Finlay producing, stars real life couple, actors Marty Maguire and Jo Donnelly as the love struck presenter and his fame seeking, day dreaming co-presenter, which adds a certain dynamic to the play.

Given that it is Valentine’s Day why not join the rural community radio presenter Hugh Francis O’Connell (played by Belfast actor Marty Maguire) as he copes with the unrequited love of his co-presenter Margaret Mary Rose (fellow actor Jo Donnelly).

Stephen commented; “I am delighted to be showcasing ‘Ardnaglass on the Air’ at the Lyric. The dialogue between Hugh Francis and Margaret Mary Rose is witty and quick as they hold the fort at the community radio station and muse on the goings on of the village. The play will resonate with the audience in that most of us will know a similar character to Hugh and Margaret or at least one or two of their characteristics.  It promises to be a cheerful, surprising and touching show.

“It is a great privilege and honour to work with Tom, Marty, Jo and playwright Jimmy Kerr.  After the Lyric Theatre we are excited to be taking this on tour around the province so keep an eye out at your local theatre – it will be well worth a great night out!”

Award winning playwright Jimmy Kerr who presented ‘Ardnaglass on the Air’ in 2010 as part of the annual 1st Irish Festival held in New York, has reworked the play in preparation for this new production.

Jimmy said; “I have had great fun reworking my original play ahead of c21 Theatre Company’s production and revisiting the characters of Hugh Francis O’Connell and Margaret Mary Rose.   The original play came about when I was asked to write a radio-play for Hamm and Clov Stage Company. I didn’t know what a radio play was since I’d never heard one, so I wrote a play about a radio show.

“Luckily it was well received and we have gone on to perform it in various theatres and countries over the past ten years.  It’s as much fun for the cast as it is for the audience and we love doing the play so I’m looking forward to our time in the Lyric Theatre and then giving more people the opportunity to see it as we tour around all of Northern Ireland.

“The final performance on 5th March is really rather fitting as our closing night as it is in St Ergnat’s GAC in Moneyglass, County Antrim where I was raised and where I am currently back living.”

The production is funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council for Northern Ireland.   Gilly Campbell, Arts Development Officer for Drama and Dance, Arts Council said; “The Arts Council is delighted to support c21 Theatre Company’s latest production through National Lottery funding.  The Arts Council is committed to bringing great art to everyone and with this tour travelling throughout the region it offers the public the valuable opportunity to experience the wonderful work of this talented company.”

Performances take place 14th – 18th February 2017, Lyric Theatre, Belfast followed by nine shows in venues throughout Northern Ireland. The audience is advised that the show contains colourful language and livestock and that they should wear wellies…

Tickets are on sale now at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, contact 028 9038 1081 or online via www.lyrictheatre.co.uk

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Performance Dates

14th– 18th February      Lyric Theatre, Belfast

22nd February              Marketplace, Armagh

23rd February               Craic Theatre, Coalisland

24th February               Courtyard, Newtownabbey

25th February               Cushendall Golf Club

28th February               Sean Hollywood, Newry

2nd March                    Roe Valley, Limavady

3rd March                     Island Arts Centre, Lisburn

4th March                     Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick

5th March                     St Ergnats GAC, Moneyglass