On stage: The Bear, Blind Date and Celebration

Sheenagh Murphy, Michael Whelan and John Mooney rehearsing The Bear by Chekhov

REPRISING their short play series at Locke Bar’s Loft Venue, Torch Players this year welcome Mary Immaculate College’s drama group MIDAS for a turn Wednesday 15 to Friday 18, 8pm.

For  Torch, anticipate ‘The Bear’ by Chekhov, one of his lighter pieces and Peter Quilter’s ‘Blind Date’, to be directed by Joanne O’Brien. MIDAS bowls in with a challenge from Pinter, ‘Celebration’ and this will be directed by the talented Luke Frawley. Arts page talked to Torch godfather Maurice O’Sulllivan as to what lies ahead and his choice of ‘The Bear’.

“We always like a Chekhov but it’s hard to get around to doing one of his greats like ‘The Cherry Orchard’,” is the point he makes. “The Bear is one he wrote earlier in his career and made a lot of money out of it. It’s a farce, almost vaudeville Broadway in style. The story is of a widow Popova grieving for the loss of her husband for years, and she feels she will be in mourning for ever”.

Loyal servant Luka looks to boost her perspective, invoking the world of men out there – when a neighbour calls. “Smirnov is a landlord and this guy wants the debt her husband owed to him repaid. She can’t however, as she is waiting on money from another”.

Her steward must return from town across the plains with the bag of 1200 roubles and being kept waiting pokes the bear – just as the playwright takes a stab at the fast moving mores of Russian society.

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“Smirnov is a bit of a boor, the Bear of the title and ..then he becomes smitten by her. He’s falling for her”.

Guns before roses, though.

Maurice saw Harold Pinter’s ‘Celebration’ in London years ago and describes it as “an unusual piece set at an expensive restaurant in London. Four people are at one table, there are two at another and it starts off fairly normal, then goes awry”.

Terms such as existentialist surface as the characters “go on a philosophical jaunt. Some laughs there too but this is not a comedy.” Underscore that.

Finally, ‘Blind Date’ is “a bitter sweet comedy that is a warm and funny exploration of love”.

Written by Quilter, a man best known for his Judy Garland musical ‘End of the Rainbow’, at its heart is a couple who met through the lonely hearts column. Brave??

Tickets €10 at door, George’s Quay.