Moonshine by Jim Nolan
Six deep, challenging characters, all in search of redemption, all with troubling back stories
Jim Nolan has been a professional playwright since 1985 and has written seventeen plays, thirteen of which have been professionally produced. Moonshine is not easy to pigeonhole dramatically. It is at times darkly funny, though in its underlying themes Nolan is marking the changes in Irish society in the early 1990s and the gradual emancipation of women from the yoke of the catholic church and societal norms.
The cast comprises four men and two women – or three including a female corpse. They are:
McKeever: (late thirties or early/mid 40s) local undertaker with a history of incompetence but with humanity and a troubled past that haunts him; supposed leader of local amateur Thespians.
Michael: (mid 20s) McKeever’s autistic undertaking assistant and member of amateur theatre company.
Reverend John Langton: (mid 50s to mid 60s) Vicar of local Protestant Church, but a man undergoing several crises at the same time; a dying wife, closure of his church, a loss of faith and an estranged daughter.
Elizabeth: (early/mid 20s) Langton’s daughter and – as will be revealed – McKeever’s ex-lover as a consequence of which she has left the village; a complex character.
Bridget: (teenage) – member of amateur theatre company desperately trying to grow emotionally and sexually.
Griffin: (late 20s/early or mid 30th) – gravedigger and member of amateur theatre company. Appears to be quite a nasty piece of work but has redeeming features as well as a guilty secret.
The action of the play begins on Good Friday 1991 in the village of Ballintra on the south coast of Ireland. McKeever, accompanied by his apprentice Michael, has come to the local Church of Ireland to discuss the funeral arrangements of Langton’s dying wife Margaret. Before Langton’s arrival, Michael expounds on the mounting problems of Mac’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, scheduled for Easter Sunday evening at the parish hall. When Langton arrives, he appears wearied by the loss of his congregation and the church authorities’ decision to close the church. He now doubts his faith. In the course of the play, the characters’ shortcomings and ambitions, secrets and passions are played out against the mounting tension of Margaret’s funeral service and the chaos that is the forthcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
As the multiple sets include the church, the beach, McKeever’s Funeral Parlour office & embalming room, staging will be a challenge. I do not plan to have a fixed set but moveable objects to represent the different elements, with lighting creating individual scene effects.
The reading and open auditions will take place on Tuesday 21 November at 8.00 pm and Thursday 23 November at 7.30 pm. Performance dates: Saturday 10, Monday 12 to Saturday 17 March 2018. We start rehearsals on or around 22 January 2018. For more information, go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed Green, Director