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The Dining Room by Bart Players kicked of Newry Drama Festival. Photograph: Columba O''Hare
The Dining Room from Bart Players kicked of Newry Drama Festival. Photograph: Columba O''Hare

Newry Drama Festival opened it's ten night feast of drama with A.R. Gurney's production The Dining Room performed by Bart Players Belfast. The play is a snapshot of a vanishing culture set in the dining room of a well to do household where the family assembles for breakfast, dinner and any other special occasion.

The action takes place in the dining room and involves 18 scenes with around 55 actors from different households.  All of these scenes have to overlap and intertwine and each story is focused around a different family during a different period but the one thing they all have in common is that they have in their possession the same dining room furniture and specifically the centre of the entire production a Dining Room Table.

Highlights of the play included a particularly boisterous children's party with quite a bit of the humour gained from the quite over-aged "children" and a scene towards the end where Father is planning for his death with a perfect mix of heart tugging emotion and subtle humour

Bart Players perform The Dining Room at Newry Town Hall. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Bart Players perform The Dining Room at Newry Town Hall. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Adjudicator Michael O'Hara commenting on the difficulty in performing the play said "A small number of people, men and women have to bring to life in a very sharp and in a very focused way patriarchs, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives and husbands" and added "Characterisation although quite solid may be at times have been a bit more fully rounded and developed with maybe a little bit more edge, but generally speaking this was a gargantuan task."

The Adjudicator also suggested that lighting could possibly have been used to better effect to highlight the transitions between scenes.

Concluding the Adjudicator said of Bart Players that they were "A competent band of players, a fine team who worked so hard to realise this piece"

The Drama continues tonight with Insight Theatre Company's performance of Blood Relation at 8pm.

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