Margaret Helman
11th May 2019

The director Terence O'Connell says "FOLK floats its plot on a collection of great Irish traditional songs."

He goes on to remind us that the writer Tom Wells uses music and its transformative possibilities as a vital ingredient in all his work.

FOLK is set in East Yorkshire and the disparate characters are an unlikely group of souls - "slightly broken" - seeking out friendship and a desire to be accepted just the way they are. The glue is folk music - Irish music. It opens the play.

FOLK is set in Sister Winnies’ front room which is a haven for all comers - especially socially awkward Stephen who shares Winnie's passion for a few pints of Guinness. Their revelry is anxiously interrupted one evening when a rock is pelted through the window. Winnie discovers a troubled, awkward fifteen-year-old girl in her garden and rebellious Kayleigh becomes enveloped into the arms of Winnie's warm and generous spirit. She gathers her up and into the front room.

Kayleigh knows all the folk songs and her initial insolence is lifted as she reveals a glorious voice. The Nunn is overjoyed and she throws down another pint between deep drags on her cigarettes. She sees a travelling music trio - guitar, spoons and a glorious vocalist. Such musical talent believes should be shared across the globe.

The three characters carry a dark secret - a burden they are reluctant to reveal but ultimately urgency occurs and trust conquers their fears.

The set is a perfectly warm 'glory hole' for the characters to find security and trust and the music is a great leveller that sweeps them up - transports them. Three plaster of Paris statues of Mary evoke the period of the play - one of them - her head framed by a glamorous aureole of fairy light diamantes.

The casting: Perfection. The musical talent of the performers added a high note to this production.

The cast: Genevieve Lemon as Sister Vinnie, Libby Asciak as Kayliegh, Gerard Carroll as Stephen

Set Designer Hugh O'Connor
Dialect Coach Amy Hume
Lighting Trent Suidgeest

FOLK performs at Ensemble Theatre until 1 June