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Rosaleen Linehan: Why You Should Come & See ... The Beauty Queen of Leenane

By • West End
Joe Hill-Gibbins' production of Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenan returned to the Young Vic this week (26 July 2011, previews from 20 July), following its acclaimed run at the venue last year.

Rosaleen Linehan continues to lead the company as devilishly manipulative mother Mag. Irish actress Derbhle Crotty joins the cast as lonely spinster Maureen alongside Frank Laverty and Johnny Ward.

Linehan speaks to Whatsonstage.com and tells theatregoers why they should come and see the second London outing of this modern Irish classic.


In this show I play a malignant old cow. She’s the mother who destroys her daughter’s life, by ruining the first chance of love this girl has ever had.

It’s a heated version of a lot of mother/daughter relationships, so even though it’s extreme in a way, a lot of girls and mothers have said to me, "I could really see times when I felt exactly like that," so there is a resonance of that relationship throughout the play.

I have an adorable daughter, which is very boring. Apart from perhaps occasionally in her teenage years. I don’t think mothers and daughters go through life without the occasional thorn in the side.

People should come and see the play because its highly theatrical entertaining; its very funny but its also very sad and brutal; there’s a horror element in it as well. It’s a great play.

My main reason for doing the play was because it was going to Dublin. I really wanted it to be seen there. We then we took it around to beautiful places in England. I’d only ever been to London, but I’m going to come on my holidays now because we were in Bath and Cambridge and they were such beautiful places. I understand British people much more having visited them. You realise that this is a way of life and the countryside have obviously never had any war or battle; it’s a feeling of total peace and loveliness.

The whole cast, except myself, is different from last year's run. Susan Lynch, who played Maureen last year, is a very different girl to Derbhle Crotty, whose playing it this year. And Joe Hill-Gibbins has taken out their personalities and brought them into the play, rather than trying to force anyone into last year’s performance.

The same with the man, he was played by David Ganly last year (who is now playing the Lion in The Wizard of Oz) and is different to Frank Laverty. Though he is the same type of man - pretty well built and very macho in his own way. The young man this time is a musician from Dublin and a singer, a delightful young man called Johnny Ward.

So I had to deal with these changes, I think I did it pretty smoothly. Whether they can put up with me is another matter!

I think you can portray Ireland anywhere as long as its universal. The local is universal if you’re hitting at love, hate, jealousy or danger. Just like The Cherry Orchard which I saw at the National the other night, which is about ill-fated love and things going wrong in relationships and sadness and happiness. If they’re there, it doesn’t matter where it is. Sometimes the Irish accent might be too wrong for a London audience.

The Young Vic is a gorgeous auditorium to play. We were out in huge auditoriums in Dublin and you had to make certain concessions for the play, but its worked very well. Its nice to be back where every flick of your eyebrow is on view.

It’s a fantastic set, unbelievable, and they've rebuilt the auditorium up around it so its almost part of the scenery.

I have to say my lifetime was all spent in comedy and musicals, so even in the most disastrous situations, I always have a comic slant.

I think I can say without contradiction that there are no Irish plays written that don’t have that strange mix of comedy and tragedy; they all have a big kick in them, starting with the likes of O'Casey and The Playboy of the Western World which will be done shortly at the Old Vic.

They all have a kick of both, as they used to say, the smile and the tears together.


The Beauty Queen of Leenane opened a the Young Vic on 26 July (previews from 20 July) where it continues until 3 September 2011.


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