Review: Ireland 100: ‘The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly’ at The Kennedy Center

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The Kennedy Center is currently presenting IRELAND 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts & Culture, through June 5, 2016. The festival includes a wide range of events focused on Irish Culture, as a part of a worldwide recognition of Ireland gaining its independence 100 years ago with the 1916 Easter Rising.

One of the performances was The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly, presented in the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater by Theatre Lovett, a highly-respected theater company from Ireland. This brilliant one-man show, written by Finegan Kruckemeyer, tells the tale of a young girl, named Peggy, an ordinary girl who goes on an extraordinary adventure.

Louis Lovett. Photo by Pat Redmond.
Louis Lovett. Photo by Pat Redmond.

Louis Lovett, performer and Joint Artistic Director of Theatre Lovett, is a magnificent storyteller and deftly takes the audience into the world of Peggy O’Hegarty and through her journey. Peggy is the daughter of packers, packers who are skilled in packing anything into any other thing, including packing a piano into a jar. They are simple people and lead very routine lives, filled with work, until one day there is no more work. The O’Hegarty family waits for work to come, growing more distraught as each day passes, until Peggy, grown tired of sitting around waiting for a job, decides to go outside. She is amazed to discover that winter has come and the town is completely deserted.

Peggy is an unlikely heroin in this ingenious tale that exercises the imagination and delights the senses. Lovett plays every character perfectly, changing voices and mannerisms, with the help of props and some very clever costume design, by Joan O’Clery.

The set, originally designed by Paul O’Mahony, is one enormous crate, which opens up to reveal many more assorted sized crates that Lovett could move around the stage to represent buildings, tables, and various set pieces as needed according to the scene.

The show is a perfect family experience. Lovett interacts with the audience, constantly breaking the fourth wall, but always keeping the story on track.  There are subtle lighting effects, designed by John Comiskey, that give the show a magical feel, especially when coupled with the seamless sound and music design by Carl Kennedy.

A scene with Peggy making her way through a snow storm is gorgeously done with the use of fake snow, wind, and a long blue scarf. Another scene is a hilarious interaction with two of the characters arguing.  Lovett uses simple body language and a hat to alternately portray the continuous back and forth, changing from one character to another, but then pauses to acknowledge this impressive feat, sending the audience into uproarious laughter.

The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly is an incredible production and made a lovely addition to the Kennedy Center’s Celebration of Irish Culture and Art.  The festival continues through June 5, 2016, and includes many other opportunities to experience a bit of Ireland and join in the commemoration of their 100 years of independence.

Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

The Girl Who Forgot To Sing Badly played through Sunday, May 22, 2016 in the Family Theater at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts – 2700 F Street, NW Washington, DC. For information and tickets for upcoming events, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, or go to their calendar of events.

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