The Beauty Queen of Leenane

by Martin McDonagh 13 Oct 2021 - 21 Oct 2021

A Minack Theatre Production

In a rundown cottage in the mountains of Connemara, lonely Maureen Folan lives a dull, isolated life with her manipulative mother, Mag, until one day an unexpected admirer arrives.  Maureen senses a last chance to escape from her dreary existence, but Mag has other ideas and the two women are plunged into a battle of wills that drives them to a desperate and terrible conclusion. 

Martin McDonagh’s play crackles with emotional fire and the blackest of comedy that is both hilarious and horrific.  First performed in 1996 in Galway, it transferred to the Royal Court, London where it was nominated for an Olivier Award, while the Broadway production won 4 Tony Awards.

Martin McDonagh’s writing for the theatre also includes A Skull in Connemara, The Lonesome West, The Cripple of Inishmaan and The Pillowman.  He has also written and directed a number of films, of which the best known is the Academy Award winning Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri (2017).

The Beauty Queen of Leenane is produced by the Minack Theatre and directed by Hannah Chissick.

Cast Biographies for the Beauty Queen of Leenane

Anne Kent (Mag)

Over a 40 year career Anne has played some challenging roles. Her last performance was as Granny Coleman in the UK premier of THE OMISSION OF THE FAMILY COLEMAN for the Ustinov Royal Theatre in Bath. Prior to that she performed as Blaize in PORTIA COUGHLAN at The Old Red Lion in London, she was nominated best actress in a supporting role in the Off West End Awards. Other favourite roles include Juno in JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK - Newcastle Playhouse; Kay in LITTLE GEM - Olympia Theatre Dublin and tour;  Moya in RED ROSES AND PETROL (Dublin and London) voted best Actress by In Dublin;  Bridget in THE WEDDING - The Belgrade, Coventry; Treas in BRAZEN (a play showcase at the Criterion in London);   Bessie Burgess in THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS  for Second Age; Lisa Marie in WAITING FOR ELVIS - Axis Theatre, Dublin; Carmel in  FROM THESE GREEN HEIGHTS - Axis Theatre;  Sally, aged 92, in FINDERS KEEPERS - Abbey National Theatre; Mama in ‘TOWNLANDS OF BRAZIL - Axis Theatre and Poland; Mother in critically acclaimed one woman show THE MOTHER - The Crypt, Dublin. ; Nurse in ROMEO AND JULIET and   Emilia in OTHELLO - both for Second Age; Mags in AN GIALL - Lyric, Belfast;   Gertie McDowell in DUBLINERS - Mermaid Theatre, Copenhagen;  

TV Roles
Anne has just finished filming an adaptation from Graham Norton’s book  HOLDING   a four part series to be shown on ITV, in which she plays Nora Goggen. She played Patti Truman in CORONATION STREET (ITV); For six years she played Angela O’Connell  in FAIR CITY (RTE); Other television roles include  Neighbour Vlesssing in FOYLES WAR (ITV); Moira in PRIMEVAL (ITV); Lizzie O Dowd –Robson Greene’s Mother- in THE GAMBLING MAN ( ITV series); Maria in THE FAMILY (BBC series); Maureen Riley in BALLYKISSANGEL (BBC/RTE series); Mrs Richards in  OCCUPIED HEARTS – (New Media, Germany); May in THE RETURN (UTV); Concepta in THE CLINIC ( RTE series); Annie Flanagan in MAKING THE CUT (RTE series)

Film roles
Most notable films include  Rose Kennedy in  P.S. I LOVE YOU (d. Richard Lagravenese);  Mrs Cahill in THE GENERAL(d. John Boorman); Mrs Rabbitte in THE COMMITMENTS (d. Alan Parker)Miss Grubb in WIDOWS PEAK (d. John Irvin);  Bridget O Neill in YESTERDAY’S  CHILDREN (d. Marcus Cole); ALL THE WAY HOMEAILSA and  I WENT DOWN (all 3 films  directed by Paddy Breathnach);    Mam in H3 (Les Blaire);  Nurse lacy in NO TEARS (d. Stephen Burke);  Agnes in INCREDIBLE STORIES (d. Fred Frame).  Mrs O Conor in THE ART OF LOVE (d. Stefanie Sycholt TV6 Munich);   Other films include, Mrs Plant in THANK YOU FOR COMING;  The Big Fella in THE ANARCHIC HAND AFFAIR;  Mary in The Twang.  


Susan Stanley (Maureen)

Susan trained at LAMDA. 

Theatre work includes Every Day I Make Greatness Happen (Hampstead) Alligators (Hampstead); Tomcat (Southwark Playhouse); F*ck the Polar Bears (Bush); Portia Coughlan (Old Red Lion, nominated Best Female Performance, OFFIES); The Separation (Theatre503); Almost Maine (Park Theatre); The Separation (Project Arts Centre, Dublin); The Last Confessions of a Scallywag (The Mill at Sonning) and Bedbound (The Lion and Unicorn). 

Film work includes Hotel Amenities (winner of Best Actress, Malaga Film Festival 2013); Shadows in the WindThis Chair is Not MeThe End of the Nine Till FiveTimelarks and Resurrecting the Streetwalker.

Ben Kernow (Ray)

Originally from Cornwall Ben grew up on a small farm before training at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) graduating in 2013. His theatrical work as an actor started in repertory theatre before moving into regional and national touring theatre, with companies including Miracle Theatre, Quirk Theatre and the Minack. 

When not acting on the stage or screen himself he is never far away from the scene be it directing or writing with his company Ha-Hum-Ah Theatre. When he's not doing that he can be found in his small vineyard tending to his vines.

Keith Dunphy (Pato)

Biography to follow shortly

Review by Jenni Balow

This is a kitchen sink drama  - with a fully fitted kitchen thrown in - where the fate of four Irish lives is inexorably determined, in a beautifully written and observed play that is overwhelmingly powerful, and with a cruel twist. 

The Beauty Queen of Leenane, was written by Martin McDonagh, the academy award winning director of the film, Three Billboards Outside of Missouri.

This play was first performed in Galway in 1996 and made a memorable impact at the Royal Court in London and on Broadway.

For Hannah Chissick, the director of this Minack Theatre Production, it is the realisation of a dream to present it herself, having made her name at the open air theatre with another superb Irish drama Stones In His Pockets, two years ago.

Quite apart from the quality of this play and its actors, it is the set that is remarkable - the fully equipped kitchen, from its iron range and flue, cluttered cupboards, oven and hob, boiler, television set, toaster and radio, to a bottle of HP sauce, all set on a platform that partly obscures the Minack's famous seascape.

It works so well, enveloping the players in this intense drama, with all eyes on the lives that are being lived in this claustrophobic kitchen, in a remote cottage in the mountains of Connemara.

Here we find the furious and frustrated Maureen, a 40-year-old who needs the patience of all the saints in Ireland to cope with the endless demands of her manipulative mother, Mag, making her cup after cup of the complete meal-in-a-cup, Complan - remember that?

The alternative is porridge, which she prepares on the hob, but otherwise there is not much more to life with Mag, other than a frightening and fierce war of bickering words, and many, many regrets.

Two men will enter this domestic nightmare, Patrick, known as Pato, who may, just, offer a way out, and the gauche and fidgety track-suited Ray, who may, just, unwittingly close that window of opportunity.

Susan Stanley as Maureen, Anne Kent as Mag, Keith Dunphy as Pato, and Ben Kernow as Ray, make the finest team, each individually bringing their own special acting skills to meet four demanding roles.

Maureen transforms from drudge to super glamorous by shedding her baggy jeans for a skimpy black number, Mag, wearing slippers and woolly socks, hugs both the glowing range and dark family secrets, and Pato is heartbreaking as he simply puts into words his horrible experiences as a brickie across the water in England, and his hopes for a better life in America.

 As for Ray, what can you say, Cornwall's own Ben Kernow grasps the role with relish, raising laughs amid the anguish. It could have been written for him.

The tried and tested Minack team deliver once again, with designer Philip Whitcomb working with Production Manager Simon Hutchings and Handmade Creations, Lynn Batten and David Gibson producing the amazing set lit by Lucy Gaskell.

Ben Sutcliffe co-founder of the People's String Foundation, performs with Zaid Al-Rikabi, to make a perfect Celtic soundtrack. 

No Irish eyes were smiling at the end of this raw drama, but it was an experience.