Lay Me Down Softly at Project Arts Centre

Written and directed by Billy Roche, Lay Me Down Softly tells the story of Delaney’s Travelling Roadshow and gives an insight of Irish Life in the 1960’s.

The set and story set up immediately brought the film ‘The Playboys’ to mind. Lay Me Down Softly, though, used the background of a boxing ring to look at the characters’ relationships.

Upon entering the theatre you are immediately thrust into the 60’s and location. Red drapes and canvases printed with The Academy emblem adorn the walls, while late fifties/early sixties music is playing. Kudos must go to Set Designer, Fionnuala McMullin for a great set. I’d love to know where you got a tin of Ovaltine.

Another advantage of having a boxing ring as the central point is that the audience was sitting on three sides, like a proper boxing arena. There are little things you forget about when you watch a movie. Sitting in the front row, you could feel the wind from the boxer’s skipping rope. You’d be waiting for a 4D cinema experience for that.

The play looks at a number of relationships.  Theo, the owner and his estranged daughter Emer, Emer and her ‘boyfriend’ boxer, Junior. Theo and love interest Lily and the rivalry between boxers Junior and Dean. The character, Peader, now seems like his whole existence is for The Academy.

We only ever meet six characters onstage but the cast call to ‘Rusty’ and ‘Sadie’, the fortune teller who seem to live just off set.

There’s a great variety in the cast with veterans and relative newcomers. Lesley McGuire (The Bill, Spooks, Shameless), IFTA Supporting Actor winner Gary Lydon (The Clinic), Michael O’Hagan (End of Days, Speed 2) being the better known names.

Seeing this on March 16th brought home how much talent there is in Irish Arts. Lay Me Down Softly runs until April 2nd at Project Arts Centre

Thanks to Darragh for the tickets