Lyric Theatre, Listen at the Lyric preview, September 29 – November 23, 2020

Listen at the Lyric, preview

By Conor O’Neill

Yes, yes, yes, the dreaded second wave is upon us, and with the ‘new normal’ becoming second nature and old hat at the same time, life and the seasons throws us a collective potential knock-out blow as summer heat turn to autumnal winds and rain and the first grips of winter grind our gears.

But fear ye not; it’s not all doom and gloom for theatre lovers out there. Belfast’s Lyric theatre has announced  that though the ghost light still burn alone on the theatre’s famous stages, there is a light that never goes out.

With creatives being advised to ‘retrain’, the arts remain loud and proud. Named ‘Listen at the Lyric’, the theatre has announced three brand-spanking new audio pieces to keep our imaginations sharp. The Lyric invites audiences to take a seat, tune in and enjoy an exclusive ‘first listen’ of fresh work from emerging, established and new Northern Irish writers.

‘Listen at the Lyric’ is part of the theatre’s continued commitment to keeping the spirit of the Lyric alive while its doors remain closed due to the pandemic.

While the autumn/winter programme celebration of new writing is unable to take to the stage  versions of three dramatic new works. ‘Listen at the Lyric’ is proud to announce the following new pieces.

First up, it’s The Gap Year by Belfast based writer, Clare McMahon: Kate, Roisin and Oonagh decide enough is enough, life is too short – sure didn’t Kate’s husband drop dead in the bread aisle in Lidl?The three decide to follow in their children’s footsteps and take a gap year. Thailand? Europe? Down Under? No, they’re going to visit every county in Ireland. Sure there are a few of them they’ve never even heard of!

Next up is a dark psychological thriller by Belfast writer, Gary Mitchell. His piece, Burnt Out – starring Packy Lee (Peaky Blinders, The Shore and The Frankenstein Chronicles to name but a few)

and Tara Lynne O’Neill (The Most Fertile Man in Ireland, Derry Girls and at least two Lyric stage roles including Educating Rita and most recently the fantastic Shirley Valentine)

follows a couple as their perfect life unravels into a disorientating nightmare of suspicion, paranoia and intimidation when they unwittingly move to a new home opposite a bonfire site.

The last of the offering are a selection of short plays from Northern Ireland’s most dynamic female playwrights. Under the umbrella title of 2050 Under The Albert Clock.

The pieces are a series of monologues that will be released in two parts on October 27th and November 10th. Originally commissioned for the 1st Irish Festival in New York in January 2020, these monologues are set in a Belfast of the future and showcase some of Northern Ireland’s most dynamic female writers – Sarah Gordon, Emily Dedakis, Gina Donnelly, Alice Malseed, and Finn Kennedy.

The Lyric’s Executive Producer, Jim Fay said: “While our doors remain closed, we are still deeply committed to connecting with and remaining accessible to all our audiences as well as supporting those working within the industry. ‘Listen at the Lyric’ is our continued response to adapting to the current situation ensuring that new writing is given the platform to be heard and celebrated.

“Even though we continue to operate in a very difficult climate, we are very excited to provide audiences with the opportunity to get an exclusive first listen to these wonderful audio pieces of new work from Northern Irish writers.

“Until we can safely bring these plays to our stage, we invite everyone to tune in and celebrate this wonderful creative talent.”

Arts Development Officer, Caoileann Curry-Thompson, of Arts Council of Northern Ireland added: “In these uncertain times we’re missing the connection we get from live performance, and needing its solace, clarity and provocations more than ever. True to form, the Lyric is keeping with its audience and offering new, exciting, dramatic experiences – the theatre that famously never closed its doors during the Troubles is responding to current restrictions on opening with the agility and creativity which is its hallmark.

“It brings us a triptych of new work, each unique, challenging and exciting which includes the Belfast theatrical rapscallion Gary Mitchell, sandwiched between some brave, scintillating new female voices. With audio drama we can all journey together in our imaginations and come together in the soundscape world of ‘Listen at the Lyric’’, I can’t wait.”

‘Listen at the Lyric’ is available at

The Gap Year runs from September 29th – October 12th

Burnt Out from October 13th – October 26th

2050 Under the Albert Clock November 3rd – November 23rd

Tickets are on sale at a standard price of £6 with optional donation tickets available at £12 and £20 to support the Lyric in continuing to produce great theatre during the pandemic.


So, take of that mask, put the hand-gel away, slip into your comfy slippers and enjoy the shows!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s