Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Fishamble to Present NOAH AND THE TOWER FLOWER at the Drilling Company Theatre, Closes 10/2

Fishamble: The New Play Company from Dublin, Ireland will perform the American premiere of "Noah and the Tower Flower" by Sean McLoughlin, winner of the 2007 Irish Times Best New Play Award, September 7 to October 2, 2011 at The Drilling Company Theater, 236 West 78th Street, Manhattan. The award-winning play is one of the most acclaimed productions of the ensemble, which produces only new works and is regarded as the most courageous and innovative theatre company in the country. It is an affecting portrait of the "lost youth" of Ballymun, a blighted, hardscrabble district of North Dublin, ringing with the quarter's exotic language and illuminated by inspiring performances. Artistic director Jim Culleton will direct the play with its original cast.

The production is presented by Fishamble in association with The Drilling Company as part of Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland's year of Irish arts in America, and 1st Irish, New York's annual festival of Irish Theatre.

"Noah and the Tower Flower" is a powerful, tender portrait of the "lost generation" of twenty-somethings who grew up in the high-rises of Ballymun, the Irish state's worst urban planning disaster. Ballymun is a district on Dublin's North Side, near the airport. The Ballymun flats, intended to replace slums with high-rise apartments, were built in the idealism of the late '60s. Largely due to its lack of amenities, the area deteriorated in the '70s and '80s into a rough and violent ghetto, known for its poverty, drugs and alienation. Today, it is a scene of a multi-billion euro program of urban renewal.

The play is an encounter between two memorable fictional characters of this milieu. Noah, recently released from jail, is a reckless yet interestingly perceptive young man with a violent past. On his first day of freedom, he encounters Natalie, a recovering addict, who is soaking up gin and tonics in a neighborhood bar. He dubs her a "Tower Flower," a sobriquet that is destined to enter popular parlance with the increasing popularity of this play. The duo are high-strung and ferociously attracted to each other. The sympathetic, ultimately uplifting drama depicts their struggle to leave their pasts behind as they begin to fall in love. It is distinguished by its peculiar, soaring argot and the performances of its two distinguished actors, who feel the characters in their bones.

The play is set in the bar and Natalie's apartment, two intimate locations that are well-suited to The Drilling Company's jewel-box theater. This production marks the beginning of an alliance between Ireland's most prolific presenter of new plays and a rising New York company that is totally committed to presenting new work in its theater space on the Upper West Side. (In the summer, however, it produces "old" works: Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot on the Lower East Side).

The play stands out among the nine productions of this year's 1st Irish festival by the number of accolades in its portfolio. Beside winning the Best New Play Award 2007 in the Irish Times Theatre Awards, it is winner of the overall Stewart Parker Trust Award 2007 and was nominated for a Playwrights' and Screenwriters' Guild ZeBBie Award (formerly OZ Whitehead Award) for Best Theatre Script in 2007. The Sunday Independent wrote, "It's a little cracker...Mary Murray and Darren Healy are as funny, endearing and accomplished as could be hoped for...Jim Culleton directs with a great touch of liveliness and subtlety." The Irish Independent declared, "Sean McLoughlin has written a fairytale of Ballymun with all The Edge of Shane MacGowan's New York version...Mary Murray is stunning as Natalie; Darren Healy brings physical comedy, a manic energy and a superb De Niro impersonation to his portrayal of Noah...Jim Culleton has clearly allowed the actors to nurse their characters into life...exhilarating, clever and disturbing." The Irish Times praised McLoughlin's keen eye for character and amusingly blunt dialogue. The Sunday Business Post, rating the play four stars, wrote, "McLoughlin convincingly captures the desperation of obsession, addiction, loneliness and love, in a Dublin idiom laced with mordant humour. Darren Healy and Mary Murray make the intimacy of Fishamble's production almost difficult to watch...the snappy Dublin banter in McLoughlin's play is beautiful, hard poetry."

Playwright Sean McLoughlin is often compared to Brendan Beehan or Sean O'Casey, in that he follows the Irish literary tradition of writing about Dublin working class characters. He grew up in Artane and now lives in East Wall (both parts of Dublin); both areas are working class and geographically close to Ballymun. The play's language is the working class Dublin dialect that is predominant in Ballymun. The actors, Darren Healy and Mary Murray, are Dublin born and bred. Both are from working class areas (although not directly from Ballymun). Director Jim Culleton lives close to Ballymun, however his area, Phibsboro, is middle-class.

Fishamble: The New Play Company is the only Irish company exclusively producing new plays. It focuses closely on the language of playwrights, including Sebastian Barry and Sean McLoughlin, and specializes in plays of literary quality with a real story behind them. Its NY debut, Fishamble's "The Pride of Parnell Street" by Sebastian Barry (59E59), also dealt with working class Dublin characters. That production won awards for Best Production and Best Actress (for Mary Murray) in the 1st Irish Festival in 2009. Its last NY production, "Forgotten" by Pat Kinevane (Irish Arts Center, 2010), dealt with elderly people in retirement homes.

Playwright Brian Friel has praised Fishamble, writing "Without them, Irish theatre would be anaemic." Fintan O'Toole, drama critic of The Irish Times, added, "Jim Culleton's work with new playwrights at Fishamble has detonated a controlled explosion of fresh talent." Fishamble has worked with most of Ireland's top theatre artists. Writers Mark O'Rowe (screenwriter of "Intermission" starring Colin Farrell) and Marina Carr ("On Raftery's Hill" at the Kennedy Center) wrote their first plays for the company. Actors including Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox have acted in developmental projects and radio plays produced by the company. The company's body of work and awards can be found on its website, www.fishamble.com.

"Noah and the Tower Flower" was an auspicious playwriting debut for Sean McLoughlin when it was developed and produced by Fishamble in 2007. (He was previously a writer of poetry and short stories.) It was subsequently presented as part of a four-venue tour of Bulgaria and Romania in 2009. It will be performed for two performances at the Civic Theatre, Tallaght, Ireland, in September before its NY opening at The Drilling Company.

Fishamble has subsequently produced McLoughlin's 2010 play, "Big Ole Piece of Cake," and commissioned a new play by him titled "Special Effects for Reggie Junior." The company's productions elsewhere in the US have included "The Pride of Parnell Street" at Long Wharf Theater as part of the Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven (2008), "Turning Point" in association with Arts & Disability Ireland for the International VSA Festival/Kennedy Center, Washington DC (2010) and "Forgotten" at the Source Theater, Washington DC, and Boston Center for the Arts (2010). "Forgotten" will be presented at the Odyssey Theater, Hollywood, in November 2011.

Jim Culleton (Director) is Artistic Director of Fishamble and has led the troupe in a prolific outpouring of new works since 1990. He has directed "Silent" by Pat Kinevane, "Turning Point," "Big Ole Piece of Cake" by Sean McLoughlin, "Forgotten" by Pat Kinevane, "The Pride of Parnell Street" by Sebastian Barry, "Strandline" by Abbie Spallen, "Handel's Crossing" by Joseph O'Connor, "Noah and the Tower Flower" by Sean McLoughlin, "Rank" by Robert Massey, "Monged" by Gary Duggan and short plays for the award-winning Whereabouts. He has also directed for the Abbey & Peacock, 7:84 (Scotland), Project Arts Centre, Amharclann de hÍde, Amnesty International, Pigsback, Tinderbox, The Passion Machine, The Ark, Second Age, RTÉ Radio 1, The Belgrade, Semper Fi, TNL Canada, Scotland's Ensemble @ Dundee Rep, Draíocht, Barnstorm, Roundabout, TCD School of Drama, the Irish Council for Bioethics, Origin (New York) and RTÉ lyric fm. He most recently directed "Boss Grady's Boys" by Sebastian Barry for Noel Pearson at the Gaiety and "Bookworms" by Bernard Farrell for the Abbey, national theater of Ireland. Current projects include a range of training, mentoring and development projects, all for Fishamble.

Mary Murray (Natalie) won Best Actress 2009 at The First Irish Theatre Festival in New York for her portrayal of Janet in "The Pride of Parnell Street" by Sebastian Barry at 59E59. She was named Best Actress at the MAMCA awards in 2008. Her recent theatre credits include "The End of the Road" (also for Fishamble), "Arrah Na Pogue" (The Abbey), "Boss Grady's Boys" (Gaiety), "Bogboy" (Tall Tales), "Off Plan" (RAW), and "Twelve Days In May" (Liberty Hall). She won Best Supporting Actress at The Irish Times Theatre Awards in 2006 for "AlIce Trilogy" (The Abbey). She acts prolifically in film and TV. Her radio dramas include "Dublin Tenement Life" for Dublin History Museum. She is also a multi award winning singer and the director of Visions Drama School.

Darren Healy (Noah) is making his American debut. He has worked extensively in film, theater and TV. His films include "Crushproof" (lead, 1998), "Layercake" (2004) and the Oscar winning "Once" (2006). He appeared in the off -beat comedy "Eamon" (2009), which was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award for best script, and the lead role in the critically acclaimed "Savage" (2009) for which he earned an IFTA nomination for best actor. Most recently he appeared in "The Guard" (2011) alongside Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson. His stage appearances include "Romeo and Juliet" at The Abbey Theatre, "King Lear" at the Tivoli Theatre, "Monged" at the Belgrade Theatre and "Scenes from the Big Picture" at the Royal National Theatre.

Lighting Designer is Mark Galione. Set and Costume Designer is Sinead O'Hanlon. Sound Designers are Ivan Birthistle and Vincent Doherty.

Fishamble's American tour has been made possible with support from Culture Ireland and its productions in 2011 are in the U.S. as part of Imagine Ireland.

Fishamble: The New Play Company (Ireland) in association with The Drilling Company presents "Noah and the Tower Flower" September 7 to October 2 at The Drilling Company Theatre, 236 West 78th Street. The production is part of Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland's year of Irish arts in America, and 1st Irish, New York's annual festival of Irish Theatre. Performances are Wed - Sat at 8:00 PM ($25), Sun & Mon at 7:00 PM ($20), Saturday mantinees at 2:00 PM ($20). To order tickets call SMARTTIX at (212) 868-4444 or visit www.smarttix.com. The Festival's website is www.1stirish.org. The performing company's website is www.fishamble.com.

Photo Credit: Colm Hogan


Buy at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More
Branded Broadway Merch

Related Articles View More Off-Off-Broadway Stories

More Hot Stories For You