The Unlucky Cabin Boy on way to Kilkenny

The Unlucky Cabin Boy is a new musical devised by Gúna Nua Theatre Company in conjunction with playwright Mike Finn and The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra and it arrives here at the Watergate on 17 November for a 2 night run.

Stephen O'Leary as Patrick O'Brien in The Unlucky Cabin Boy by MIke Finn Music by David Blake Directed by Paul Meade Photo by Tom Lawlor

Stephen O’Leary as Patrick O’Brien in The Unlucky Cabin Boy by MIke Finn Music by David Blake Directed by Paul Meade Photo by Tom Lawlor

Based on a true story, The Unlucky Cabin Boy tells of the young Patrick O’Brien of Limerick in 1835. In a desperate attempt to escape his life of poverty, he signed himself aboard the Francis Spaight ship as a cabin boy on the ship’s voyage to the New World. On the ship’s return from St. John, New Brunswick, the Francis Spaight encountered a terrible storm and capsized. With several crew members drowned, the remaining sailors were able to right the ship by cutting the mast leaving them utterly stranded in the vast ocean; their provisions, water, and possessions having been lost overboard.

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After two weeks of struggling to survive in severely grim conditions, the crew’s despair drove them to desperate measures and Capitan Gorman resolved that one crew member should die in order to prolong the lives of the others. Our hero, Patrick O’Brien drew lots, called himself on the death lot, and was killed and eaten by the crew. Two other crew members were respectively killed and eaten before the remaining sailors were rescued by passing ship.

Susannah De Wrixon in The Unlucky Cabin Boy by Mike Finn,  Photo by Tom Lawlor

Susannah De Wrixon in The Unlucky Cabin Boy by Mike Finn, Photo by Tom Lawlor

This chilling tale of hardship, sacrifice, and the will to survive is brought to life by the compositions of The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra. Locally based in Limerick, the band is known for their smooth combinations of guitar, keyboard, double bass, violin, percussion, and richly textured vocal harmonies. Defying boundaries of typical genres, the catchy melodies and compelling lyrics of David Blake (of The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra) are integrated into the play, and The Unlucky Cabin Boy is brought to life by their vibrant lyrics and original arrangements.

Mike Finn is an actor, playwright and founder member of Island Theatre Company, Limerick, with whom he has appeared in over 20 plays. His play, Pigtown, was nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award and was later staged at the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York. Finn has been International Writer in residence at the University of Iowa and the Burdines Distinguished Visiting Artist at the University of South Florida.

The Unlucky Cabin Boy's James Black. Photo: Tom Lawlor

The Unlucky Cabin Boy’s James Black. Photo: Tom Lawlor

Gúna Nua Theatre Company is an independent theatre company based in Dublin with a dedication to producing new and devised works of theatre. Other recent original productions include Pondling and Faith. Gúna Nua’s signature style of humor and theatricality contrasted with the dark and desperate story of the cabin boy make for a compelling evening of theatre. This exploration of local Limerick history through the context of music, dialogue, and movement promises to be a highlight of the Limerick City of Culture 2014.

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