High stakes to PUNT’s downward slide

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March 14 to 16 at Belltable, 8pm

CREATED by partners in art and life, Tara Doolan and Pius McGrath, the Limerick based Honest Arts Production Company is having a run of luck with its latest, PUNT.

Billed as over12s only, expect challenging issues when it stages on Belltable for the run into St Pat’s weekend, March 14, 15 and 16 at 8pm.

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PUNT is a smart choice to feature for Ireland’s annual slide into showfloats, alcohol and racing fixtures, under the halo of our saint.

Expert in technical production and gifted with respect to writing and acting, McGrath and Doolan favour true grit set in sullen times. A previous hit of theirs, ‘Waiting in Line’ fashioned digital scenes and character changes that moved faster than sleet, themed by lives signing on the dole.

‘Waiting in Line’ was nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award 2014 with collaborator Mario Beck. They went on to be prizewinners at Toronto’s Cutting Edge Artist Award.

PUNT is current. Written and performed by Pius McGrath, written and directed by Doolan, this is a product of the impressively successful Belltable: Connect theatre development scheme. It premiered for Limerick Fringe Festival 2017 and has gone from Limerick to Listowel to Kilmallock with its character study of the pernicious, hidden addiction of gambling.

Briefly: “This is a story of gambling culture in Ireland. With the arrival of modern technology, it’s a look at how it has infiltrated local culture as sub culture around the country. With smartphones, gambling is now everywhere.”

A man’s life is introduced by flashback, inter-cut and narrative, from age six into his present late-20s. He has become hijacked emotionally, socially, financially, perhaps irrevocably by his compulsion to bet.

Honest Arts points to many things driving the prevalence and secrecy of this furtive fever: TV and online advertising; press button apps; the vacuum created by the ban on alcohol sponsorship; increased affluency.

With court cases and admissions lamping sports players as as a sector affected, GAA reports a 30 per cent rise in its players seeking professional support in accessing help.

“Addiction is quite prevalent in small towns around the country. Gambling is starting when people are quite young and PUNT is about when it goes from being a harmless punt to problem”.

Book at venue manager www.limetreetheatre.ie