Stars come out for Ballyturk US premiere as GIAF co-production wows NY critics

16 January 2018

The stars came out for the US premiere of the Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival co-production Ballyturk this week, as the show wowed New York critics.

Early reviews for Ballyturk, which premiered at Galway International Arts Festival in 2014 and opened The Abbey Theatre’s new season in March last year, have been phenomenal, with The New York Times describing Enda Walsh as a 'dramatist of ferociously specific imagination'.

New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley also lauded the performances from Mikel Murfi, Tadhg Murphy and Olwen Fouéré, saying the former, as One and Two, act out their roles with ‘jaw-dropping virtuosity’, while Fouéré, as Three, embodies ‘the silken swagger of a film noir villain’.

Mr Brantley describes the production as possessing 'madcap stagecraft and verbal fireworks' and the play as 'pure poetry' and an 'enigmatic cosmic farce’ that is likely to ‘take up residence in your thoughts after you’ve seen it’.

The New York Times also selected Ballyturk as one of the Top 5 Shows to see in New York in January last week, saying ‘Few people fall apart as energetically, or as entertainingly, as the characters created by the Irish dramatist Enda Walsh.’

Time Out New York also ran a fantastic review of Ballyturk this week, describing it as a 'smashing play' and praising the actors 'mesmerizing portrayals'.

Reviewer Adam Feldman described Mikel Murfi as 'an excellent physical comic', while celebrating the 'charming Tadgh Murphy' and 'the magnetic Olwen Fouéré'.

Sara Holdren, writing in New York Magazine, described Ballyturk as 'thrilling... breathtaking'. She heaped praise on the cast, describing Tadgh Murphy as 'spectacular', Olwen Fouéré as 'superb' and Mikel Murfi as 'frantically funny and moving'.

Theatre Mania's David Gordon called the play was 'enigmatic' and 'exhilarating', describing Murfi and Murphy as 'terrific' and Fouéré as possessing 'magnificently quiet menace'.

The New Yorker's Anna Russell, meanwhile, hailed the cast as 'glorious'.

New York Magazine also listed the show as one of 10 Things to Do in New York following the show's opening.

Amongst the guests who attended previews and the opening night of Ballyturk at St Ann’s Warehouse in New York this week were the James Bond producer Barbara Broccoli; Orange Is the New Black star Kate Mulgrew; producer at the National Theatre of Scotland Eileen O'Reilly; Culture Ireland's director Christine Sisk and the new Irish Consul General of New York Ciaran Madden.

Director of Belfast's Lyric Theatre Jimmy Fay; The Gloaming's Iarla O'Lionaird; composer Donnacha Dennehy; film producer Redmond Morris, who is currently shooting a feature film in New York; EMMY Award winning production designer, Galway man Tom Conroy, and the actor Garret Lombard also enjoyed the performance and opening night party hosted by St. Ann's Warehouse artistic director Susan Feldman, which took place in St. Ann's stunning new riverside venue underneath the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

Olivier Award winning Irish actor Denise Gough (who makes her Broadway debut this spring in Angels in America starring opposite Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield); the internationally celebrated tenor Topi Lehtipuu; director of the Abbey Theatre Neil Murray, director of Kilkenny Arts Festival Eugene Downes; Anne Clarke from Landmark Productions; and Paul Fahy and John Crumlish from Galway International Arts Festival were also in attendance.

Galway International Arts Festival also hosted its second US First Thought Talk this week, which was live-streamed from New York on the Galway International Arts Festival Facebook page.

The First Thought Talk with Enda Walsh in conversation with St Ann’s Warehouse Artistic Director Susan Feldman, moderated by Galway International Arts Festival Artistic Director Paul Fahy was viewed by thousands of people around the world, who posed questions in real time to Mr Walsh.

Galway International Arts Festival’s other co-producing work was also recognised at home this week, with the Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival 2017 co-production Woyzeck in Winter receiving six nominations for this year’s Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards.

The production, which premiered at the Galway International Arts Festival last year before touring to the Barbican Centre in London and Dublin Theatre Festival in October, was nominated in Best Production, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Set Design, Best Costume and Best Lighting Design categories.

Galway International Arts Festival’s first opera presentation, The Second Violinist (Landmark Productions & Wide Open Opera), which premiered at the festival last year, was also recognised at the awards, with four nominations, including Best Director for Enda Walsh and Best Opera.

The 41st Galway International Arts Festival will take place from 16-29 July 2018, with acts already confirmed including Irish National Opera’s new opera production of Orfeo ed Euridice, indie sensation Caribou and double platinum selling alternative rock group Walking on Cars.

Galway International Arts Festival would like to acknowledge the support of its principal funding agencies the Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland, its Festival Partner Ulster Bank and Education Partner NUI Galway.