Fun with Foley: One-man show delights

Andrew Bennett, renowned actor at the Abbey Theater in Dublin, Ireland, and narrator of the acclaimed film Angela’s Ashes, brings his one-man show, Foley, to Charlottesville for a two-night run as part of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities conference “Re-imagining Ireland.”
The play concerns a man who is the last of his family, among the last Protestants in the Republic of Ireland. Foley recounts the character’s philosophical journey and explores how he has deliberately exiled himself from his Anglo-Irish family and inadvertently isolated himself from the Catholic community through a failed marriage.
Caustic and irreverent, Foley offers hilarious depictions of his family, and the dark comedy in the script is lightened by his pensive philosophy and flights of spirituality. It’s taken Foley his whole life to realize that, as he says, “Your inheritance is not the things that come down to you, it’s the things you can’t get rid of.”
In the play, he attempts to recall his life for the audience in order to set things straight. Bennett was nominated Best Actor for his role as Foley at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2001.
Foley premiered at the Belltable Arts Center in Limerick, was subsequently performed at the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh in August 2000, and was transferred to the Hampstead Theater in London in November 2001. The show comes to Virginia after its North American premiere at New York’s Irish Repertory Theater last month.  
The Washington Post has called Foley “a splendidly crafted act of self-consciousness… an exquisite piece of writing.” Marilyn Stasio of Variety says, “West’s gorgeous drama is at once a penetrating character study of a man trying to escape his past and a bitter indictment of a social class that has no regard for its future.” Thelma Goode of Edinburgh.com promises, “Foley will transport you.” So… prepare to be moved by this play.
And stick around after the performance for a panel discussion, sponsored by the Forum for Contemporary Thought at UVA, with playwright Michael West, actor Andrew Bennett, director Annie Ryan, and a writer on culture and drama.

Foley plays Friday, May 9, at 8:15pm and Saturday, May 10, at 8pm in UVA’s Culbreth Theater, 109 Culbreth Road. $20. 924-9721 or www.re-imagining-ireland.org.

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