The Inis Nua Theater will present the US premiere of A HOLY SHOW by young Irish playwright Janet Moran. The Irish phrase ‘a sacred spectacle’ means embarrassing yourself or putting on a spectacle, the perfect title for this whirlwind comedy based on the true story of a disgraced Australian monk who hijacked an airliner using only Holy water. A HOLY SHOW took place in 1981 as Aer Lingus flight 164 to London was about to depart. We meet passengers like Tina and Joe who are on their honeymoon, Bun who is going to meet her new granddaughter, Mary who is nervously flying for the first time and Downey who is on a mission to learn the Third Secret of Fatima in all cost . The production will be directed by Barrymore Award nominated director and Inis Nua founder and artistic director Tom Reing. Previews start on Wednesday October 6, with the opening night on Friday October 8. The show runs until October 24, 2021 for a total of 15 performances. All performances will take place at the Louis Bluver Theater at Drake, 302 South Hicks Street. Tickets are $ 15 to $ 30. To reserve, visit inisnuathatre.org.
A HOLY SHOW premiered in 2018 as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival run by its writer, Janet Moran. He sold out at the world-famous Peacock Theater Abbey Theater before moving to Edinburgh Fringe, CCI Paris, and ending a sell-out Irish national tour in 2020, again led by Moran. A HOLY SHOW has also been adapted for RTE Radio Drama on One. Inis Nua is thrilled to bring A HOLY SHOW to the Philadelphia audience for our first show in 19 months.
The Edinburgh Reporter said of A HOLY SHOW’s 2019 Fringe run “it’s a very funny script that really really entertained the audience who read this original work”. The list called it “a gloriously comical and surprisingly thoughtful spectacle … A sacred spectacle is, among other things, a time capsule of an earlier Ireland, which illuminates the distance between the past and its certainties, and the uncertain present” , comparing it to the actual Aer Lingus flight event he describes, they say “it takes you to places you never thought it would go”. The Irish Times said the play “grabs every embellishment opportunity, from earthy comic tricks to absurd religious visits.”
A HOLY SHOW not only brings humor to a dramatic event, but also sheds light on humanity in the face of grave danger. It tells both the real and imagined stories of the people on Flight 164. Passenger by passenger, a group of travelers entertain with pieces of their life stories. Once the former monk, Laurence Downey, reveals his plan to take over the plane as a lever to uncover the truth of a religious fable, everyone on the flight is whisked away for the ride. Pilots, flight attendants and passengers begin to find out what is going on, and each experiences the unexpected turn of a perfectly normal flight at a time when they face their own mortality. In the midst of the chaos, they stop to think about what matters most right now and how they want to live their lives in the future. The play invites the public to do the same, while having fun of course. Founder and Artistic Director Tom Reing is delighted that Inis Nua is presenting this US premiere and says, “This comedy shows the best of Irish theater. Don’t take yourself too seriously. And it really happened!
Reing’s familiarity with Moran’s work piqued his interest in the A HOLY SHOW. “Playwright Janet Moran is a good friend I met at the Corn Exchange Theater in Dublin,” adding after seeing Fringe’s original production of the play, “I could see the influence of this company in the style of A Holy Show. “
The production features the two performers of the play in more than 20 different characters. The range of distinct and sometimes rapidly changing characters poses a particular challenge. Rachel Brodeur took on a similar challenge in the 2019 Inis Nua production of BOX CLEVER. Liam Mulshine’s experience in Commedia dell’arte and improvisation helps him in his work on the almost clownish nature of this scenario. The production deserves a movement director, Dan Higbee, who will help bring a uniqueness to the physical performance of each of the many characters, including, of course, the Virgin Mary herself.