Theatre

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The Independent Culture
'We're playing two nice scrubbers. I always get the glamorous parts.'

Together with Carol Scanlan (far right), Eleanor Methven (right) is playing a Belfast office cleaner whose dreams are the subject of Tom McLaughlin's revue-like riot of comic sketches, Iron May Sparkle. 'Because the sketches are all dreams, we get to play dogs and men too. Basically, it's a romp.

We're having a crack.'

Both actresses are founder members of Charabanc, now celebrating its 10th anniversary. Another noted Irish company, Field Day, has a tremendous critical reputation but its work (like its notorious poetry anthology) doesn't exactly place women centre-stage. Charabanc, on the other hand, was founded to do just that. Anyone frightened at the prospect of 'Irish theatre' meshing with 'feminist theatre' can take heart. While the work could be described as a response to violence and the political pressures, it makes more sense to suggest that potential audiences should talk to anyone who laughed themselves stupid at Somewhere Over the Balcony or wept at the portrait of rural life and 'basket teas' in The Girls in the Big Picture.

By being so specifically centred on Belfast, Charabanc's work has huge resonances outside that community, the clarity and detail allowing audiences to make connections. This explains the success of its extensive tours to the USA and the former USSR. Seeing the company back at the Drill Hall is cause for applause.

'Iron May Sparkle' , Drill Hall, 1-26 Nov (071-637 8270) (Photograph omitted)

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