Frances And Ethel
A Play A Pie And A Pint
Feb 1st– 6th
Script Stagecraft Performance
Frances Gumm was the somewhat inelegant given name for the star who was to become a leading player in the Hollywood of the Thirties and Forties and a singing legend of the Fifties and early sixties- Judy Garland. Unfortunately, Judy never escaped from the self image of herself as untalented, plump little Frances, (not helped by her mother and Louis B Mayer the head of MGM), and died from a barbiturates overdose, a tortured soul and totally burned out, at the young age of 47.
This excellent piece, written by David Cosgrove and Directed by Mary McCluskey gave us a touching insight in to some of the key moments in her career. Set in a dingy rehearsal room in New York at a confidence- boosting rehearsal prior to her major Carnegie Hall appearance in 1961, (she was a chronic no-show for films and gigs alike), the story is told from the point of view of Judy’s long-time friend and fellow musician, the hard-drinking Sal.
Piano playing Sal (John Kielty) reminisces about her fabulous career and Almost Being In Love, sung from offstage initially, announces the arrival of Judy (Frances Thorburn). Sitting upstage is her mother Ethel (Alison Peebles), dead by this time but still a grim and unlovable presence in her life.
We jump back in time and Frances’ father Frank has managed to secure a deal for her with MGM much to Ethel’s disbelief. How could fat little “monkey face”, her “little hunchback” possibly have managed this? It soon dawns on Ethel that there is money and fame to be had on the back of her daughter’s success.
One of the most poignant moments of the play is Judy’s rendition of her father’s favourite Danny Boy (a great vocal performance from Frances Thorburn throughout) as she reminisces about his early death which left her in the clutches of her domineering mother and the ruinous Hollywood star machine.
The finishing number,a show-stopping The Man That Got Away, had the audience spellbound and the players were given a well earned ovation by a near capacity crowd.
Definitely worth a trip to Oran Mor.
Reviewer : Dave Ivens