Dark comedy and Irish accents light up the theater


In history, english, science, math, and their electives, cast members use their Irish accents to recite lines from the November play. “The Cripple of Inishmaan” is an Irish dark comedy starring junior David Morris and shows at the Alan Harvey theater Nov. 3 and Nov. 5.

“The Cripple of Inishmaan” is about ‘Billy Claven,’ a crippled boy raised by two of his aunts after his parents drowned themselves, who wants to leave the island of Inishmaan. Claven finds his opportunity when a Hollywood film producer comes to cast on a neighboring island.

“[The author,] Martin McDonagh has written a play that uses hilarious comedy that then abruptly turns into the darkest drama in twists and turns so that you don’t relax in your seat even when the show is over,” senior Vivian Anable Eme said, who will be playing ‘Eileen,’ an adoptive aunt of Billy Claven.

The play includes egg throwing, hired killers for farm animals, a Hollywood film, and a dark underlying story that explodes to the forefront in tragedy, Anable Eme said.
“‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ is an Irish dark comedy and so, in addition to being fun and entertaining, it also has more depth and messages about how we treat other people so you get both layers of an enjoyable show, but also take away a more meaningful message,” ‘Helen Mccormick’ actor junior Abigail Seevak said.

With comedy, the focus is making things land in a funny way and keeping things light. With tragedy, the focus is to make moments of despair even sadder than the rest of the play. With a dark comedy, there is a balance between the two, Anable Eme said.

“One moment it’s a funny lighthearted conversation and a second later it’s a tragic monologue,” Anable Eme said. “It’s difficult to make these changes natural, especially in a play where characters are rarely telling the truth, so we spend a lot of time preparing these shifts and how to be constantly dipping back and forth between comedy and tragedy.”

Morris will be playing the role of Billy Claven. Morris practices two hours a week with director Kim Taylor and four to five hours outside of school, Morris said.

“This is my first lead, and I’m super excited and ready for the challenge,” Morris said. “I have been memorizing lines, working on my Irish dialect, practicing being ‘crippled’, analyzing lines, and practicing the scenes with my fellow cast members.”

Eileen has an Irish accent as well, which is new to Anable Eme, she said.

“I’m constantly, constantly working on my accent,” Anable Eme said. “Without the accent [I practice for] about seven to 10 hours a week, with the accent it’s almost 24/7.”

Anable Eme walks around quietly and listens to music before a rehearsal or show to adjust to her character, who is pretty stoic for most of the play, Anable Eme said.

“Working on my Irish dialect and my physicality for the character has been a challenge, but one I have loved working on.” Morris said.

During the rehearsals after school on Wednesdays, the cast spend about an hour rehearsing specific scenes with one or two fellow actors, Taylor, and the stage managers, Anable Eme said.
“We’ve been mostly memorizing and working on basic blocking,” Seevak said. “Sometimes on Tuesdays we have a special fight choreographer.”

Senior Olivia Adams is stage managing with junior Gracie Ellis, Adams said.

“First, my co-stage manager and I went through and located all of the props we need for the play,” Adams said. “We have to create a set list and prop list that corresponds to each scene so we can know when to move the furniture and props on and off stage.”

Stage managers help direct scenes and work with actors on their monologues. They work outside of school for about about three hours every day during ‘tech week,’ the week before opening night, Adams said.

“The hardest part is managing all of the little moving pieces,” Adams said. “Although stage managers don’t have to memorize a script or develop a character, it is still incredibly difficult because we have to ensure that the entire production runs smoothly.”