The Last Stand

A new play by Dominic Palmer, The Last Stand is the third play in a row by a new voice in Irish theatre for Four Rivers. Directed by Ben Barnes, it ran at Wexford Arts Centre June 8-17, 2023.

The play centres around comedian Tom Hooks as he engages in a no-holds barred verbal joust with various callers to what, he has decided, is his final podcast.

The part of the acerbic stand-up is played by Morgan C. Jones, a veteran of Irish comedic acting, who began his stand up career as a sixteen year old and became the chief script writer on the iconic Nighthawks series for RTE.

Since those heady days Morgan has branched out into television, film and theatre with appearances in Fair City, Vikings, The Bailout and Game of Thrones among other credits.

Fiona Browne, D.I. Audrey in Fair City, assumed the role of Sarah in the play. Fiona recently appeared in Portia Coughlan at the Abbey, Dubliners for Corn Exchange and in Normal People, Vikings and Red Rock.

Wexford actors Michael Dunbar, Sharon Clancy and Jack Matthews, all of whom will be familiar to Wexford audiences, played the callers Brian, Carol and Keith respectively.

The role of Techie Brendan was deftly handled by Dylan Kennedy, last seen as Sean in the Four Rivers production of Amongst Men. His theatre credits include Katie Roche at the Abbey, Lovers at The Bush, Hansel and Gretel at the British National Theatre and Philadelphia Here I Come at the Donmar Warehouse.

Dominic Palmer is one of a small number of super-talented local writers with whom Four Rivers worked at the Wexford Playwright Workshop, an initiative supported by Wexford County Council and the Wexford Arts Centre.

He has won awards for acting, writing and film making and has been practising traditional and street theatre for over twenty years, with an absurdist touch.

It comes as no surprise that he describes The Last Stand as “a darkly comic reprimand and riposte to bigotry and the nonsense notion of ‘cancel culture,’ while being an optimistic exploration of an ageing artist confronting his art, his life and his own mortality.”

The ageing artist in question is acerbic podcasting stand-up comedian Tom Hooks. The Last Stand is about the hilarious and punishing calls he attracts to his show.

“Dominic Palmer’s pitch for tolerance and kindness in the hate fuelled world driven by uncontrolled social media is one that will resonate with many people,” says Ben Barnes.

Upcoming Productions

A Handful of Stars by Billy Roche

2024 marks the 35th anniversary of the first professional production of A Handful of Stars, the first play in Billy Roche’s famous Wexford trilogy, which also includes Poor Beast in the Rain and Belfry, described at the time by The Guardian as ‘one of the year’s great theatre events.’

Directed by Conall Morrison and designed by Liam Doona, with lighting by Paul Keogan and costumes by Jeni Roddy, A Handful of Stars is coming home to Wexford in June with a fortnight run at Wexford Arts Centre.

As part of the Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2024, Four Rivers will simultaneously celebrate the career of Billy Roche – playwright, novelist, actor and singer -with public interviews, an exhibition of the playwright’s memorabilia, readings (Poor Beast in the Rain and Belfry, directed by Heather Hadrill) and a panel discussion including Billy Roche and Conall Morrison, moderated by Tom Mooney.

Wexford Arts Centre, June 8|9|11|12|13|14|15|16
Pavilion, Dun Laoghaire, June 18|19|20|21|22.

Castel Gandolfo by Jim Nolan

A reading was held at the National Opera House this week of Jim Nolan’s new play, Castel Gandolfo. The work has gone through several drafts and the reading was held to identify any areas that need further tweaking ahead of the production of the play in 2024. Ben Barnes will direct with designs by Dermot Quinn (set), John Comiskey (lighting), Jeni Roddy (costume) and Jamie Beamish (sound). Both Jim Nolan and Ben Barnes were in attendance at the reading and the reading cast were – Anna Healy, Brian Doherty, Anthony Brophy, Catherine Walker and Elishka Lane. Rehearsal will start on March 11th and the play will run at Garter Lane, Waterford from April 13-27.