In the Middle of … A Night In Celebration of Mary Lavin – Curated by Deirdre Kinahan
Review by Frank L.
Mary Lavin (1912 to 1996) was a remarkable woman who as a widow in her early forties raised three daughters, ran the family farm and wrote short stories for the prestigious New Yorker magazine. As the farm was in County Meath their Arts Office is to be commended for being one of the driving forces behind this celebratory event. Its format was unusual in that a group of nine artists from different disciplines came together to create a diverse evening of entertainment of approximately two and a half hours with Lavin as the inspirational force. The show was performed twice in Kells, County Meath appropriately and once in Dublin in the atmospheric space that is the Unitarian Church.
There was a strong musical element with Saramai Leech, Michael Brunnock, Lisa Lambe, Wayne Sheehy, Lewis Kenny and Steve Wickham all making musical contributions with explanations of which work or works of Lavin’s had been the source of inspiration. Sinead Moriarty read a short dissertation on Lavin as a writer and Kinahan herself reflected on women’s struggles as various societal forces ranged against them. Catherine Byrne introduced several of the pieces by reading well chosen excerpts from Lavin’s works which introduced several of the pieces.
Such a diverse form of entertainment is going to create pieces whose appeal is going to be different for each individual member for the audience. For this member of the audience the most memorable contributions were those of Saramai Leech and Lewis Kenny. The entire evening was one of celebration and created a need to know more about Lavin’s writing and on that score alone the entertainment can be treated as both novel and a success.