The Mai

Written by Marina Carr
Directed by Jean Monahan & Óran O'Rua
Performed in the The Mill Theatre, Dundrum - Tuesday 27 to Saturday 31 March 2012

The Mai poster

The Mai is an intelligent, talented and attractive woman whose unfulfilled wish for the perfect life and partner breaks her heart. It is a moving story of love and loss that is told with the comedy and warmth of real people.

There are many layers to this story, each woven by a different character into a dark, but sympathetic portrayal of an Irish family in the Midlands of Ireland during the 1970s.

The house she built by Owl Lake is, in some respects, the castle in The Mai's fairy tale. Standing by the window that overlooks the water, she waits for her husband, her handsome prince, to return after the four years he spent far away from her, pursuing his career as a professional cellist. Their attempt to rebuild what they had and hoped would endure is not easy. The challenges and demands presented in the relationship take their toll on the marriage and set her questioning whether she can go on without him.

All this is framed within a family of interesting and colourful women. Queen among them is the 'Spanish Beauty' old Grandma Fraochlán, complete with opium pipe. The light she shines and the shadow she casts over the family are complemented and enlarged by her daughters, Agnes and Julie, as they interfere in the lives of Connie and Beck, their nieces and by Millie, daughter of The Mai and the play's narrator.

The Mai is a tragic character in search of elusive perfection, a woman trapped in a relationship that fails to live up to her expectations and needs. Unless you come to it with closed mind, it has enough of the grey inconsistencies and contradictions of real life to leave open the question of cause and effect.

Sean Ahern and Caroline Williams
Sean Ahern (Robert) and Caroline Williams (The Mai)

In that colourfully Irish way of commenting on two people, who are not on the same page in a relationship, "there's a pair of them in it". But it is The Mai's position and predicament at the centre of the emotional storm that draws us in. Hers is the eye through which we focus our attention on the tragedy.

The play is never far from the water in a literal and metaphorical sense. It also uses repetition in its observations on how this family's history repeats itself, chronicled in memories recalled by members of its four generations of women.

Apart from the humour and also the drama, one haunting image that is sure to linger is that of The Mai standing by the window in the house she built by the lake. This was to be her dream home and a magnet to draw Robert back to share love and life with her, just like the swans who mate for a lifetime on the lake.

First performed in the Peacock Theatre, Dublin in October 1994, 'The Mai' was a departure for Marina Carr from her earlier, more abstract work. It shares with her other writing an intuitive understanding of the past and how it shapes lives in the present. As Frank McGuinness observed in his introduction to 'The Dazzling Dark: New Irish Plays', she is 'a writer haunted by memories she could not possibly possess'.

The Mai set
The cast of 'The Mai' at the end of the performance on Thursday 29 March 2012 in the Mill Theatre


Marina Carr

Marina Carr

Born in 1964, Marina Carr was brought up in Co. Offaly. She graduated from University College, Dublin in 1987.


Plays for the Abbey Theatre, Dublin include 16 Possible Glimpses, Marble, Ullaloo, The Mai, Portia Coughlan, By the Bog of Cats, Ariel and Meat and Salt. Other plays include Phaedra Backwards (Mc- Carter), On Raftery's Hill (Druid/Royal Court), Low in the Dark (Project Arts Centre), Woman and Scarecrow (Royal Court), The Cordelia Dream (RSC) and The Giant Blue Hand (The Ark).


Marina was awarded The Puterbaugh Fellowship for 2012 by The University of Oklahoma as part of the Puterbaugh Festival of International Literature and Culture, in that year devoted to her work. Other awards include The Macaulay Fellowship, the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and the E.M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She has also held the Heimbold Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova.


She was a Class of 1932 Fellow in Theatre and Dance at Princeton for 2008, an honorary professor at Trinity College Dublin and was awarded an honorary doctorate from her alma mater. A member of Aosdána, Marina lives in Kerry with her husband and four children.

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The Mai - Mill Theatre Auditorium
The view from the Control Room of the Mill Theatre on Thursday 29 March 2012


Cast of 'The Mai'
The Mai
Grandma Fraochlán
Caroline Williams
Cáitlín Higgins Ní Chinnéide
Doris Cullen
Sean Ahern
Judy McKeever
Hilary Madigan
Muriel Caslin-O'Hagan
Mary Ryan
Stage Manager
Assistant Stage Managers
Lighting Design and Operation
Sound Design and Operation
Set and Costume Design
Set Construction
Graphic Design and Programme
Jean Monahan
Óran O'Rua
Aoife Braiden
Susie Nix
Orla Cooney
Paul Macken
Óran O'Rua
Dympna Murray
Bobby White/SceneMaker
Teresa Dempsey
Joanne Keane
Claire O'Donovan
Declan Brennan


Cast and Crew

The Mai cast
The cast and crew (standing l to r), Seán Ahern, Caroline Williams, Óran O'Rua, Orla Cooney, Aoife Braiden, Susie Nix, Joanne Keane, Jean Monahan, Paul Macken, Mary Ryan and Muriel Caslin-O'Hagan, (seated l to r), Cáitlín Higgins Ní Chinnéide, Doris Cullen, Judy McKeever and Hilary Madigan.


Picture Gallery

Photographs from productions are stored on the site. The Balally Players SmugMug account allows for the viewing and downloading of images at various sizes if high resolution pictures have been uploaded. The slideshow can be run and stopped by clicking on the play (>) and pause (¦¦) icons. You can move forward and back by clicking on the right or left of the image. To go to the gallery of these images stored in the Balally Players pages of the SmugMug site, click on the main image below, where you can see and download larger copies of the images or visit to see all of the available galleries of images.

SmugMug link
To download images, click on the SmugMug logo above to open the Gallery in a new window.
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Cast of 'The Mai'

The cast of 'The Mai' included several long term members of Balally Players. Directors Óran and Jean were also pleased to welcome Cáitlín to her first role with Balally Players as 'Millie'.

The Mai cast
The cast of 'The Mai' on stage at the Mill Theatre, (standing l to r) Seán Ahern, Caroline Williams, Hilary Madigan and Judy McKeever, (seated l to r) Cáitlín Higgins Ní Chinnéide, Doris Cullen, Muriel Caslin-O'Hagan and Mary Ryan.


Directors: Jean Monahan & Óran O'Rua

The Mai cast
Director, Jean Monahan

One of the founding members of the group, Jean Monahan has played many roles and has previously directed a number of productions for the company, including 'By the Bog of Cats' by Marina Carr, and 'Happy Birthday, Dear Alice' by Bernard Farrell. Most recently, Jean directed a one act play entitled, 'Like A Virgin' by Gordon Steele, which was a finalist in the All-Ireland One Act Festival in 2010.


Óran O'Rua began acting and directing with Dramsoc at UCD, where he was awarded the Irish Student Drama Association's Best Actor award in 1998. While in UCD Dramsoc he adapted for the stage the Robbie Hyland poem, 'What Has To Be Done' and directed the ensuing production entitled, 'Betrayal'.

The Mai cast
Director, Óran O'Rua

Since joining Balally Players in 2003, Óran has played diverse roles both on and off-stage, including Casimir in 'Aristocrats', Cripple Billy in 'The Cripple of Inishmaan', Barry in 'Happy Birthday Dear Alice', The Covey in 'The Plough and the Stars' and Feste in 'Twelfth Night'. In 2008, Óran directed a new piece of Irish writing for the company entitled, 'The Moon Cut Like A Sickle' by Ken Armstrong, and has since gone on to direct and produce a number of plays.

Most recently, he directed 'Small Box Psychosis' by Barry McKinley, and is currently participating in the Fishamble Theatre Director Programme based in the Mill Theatre.

The programme, organised by Fishamble: The New Play Company and the Mill Theatre, was set up as a year-long Mentoring Programme for the professional development of playwrights and theatre directors. The scheme was supported by the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Arts Office and the participants worked with Fishamble from February to November 2012. The Mentoring Programme was designed to support directors, playwrights and theatre makers living or based in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown area.

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The Set for 'The Mai'

The Mai stage set The stage set for 'The Mai'

The set for 'The Mai' was designed by Dympna Murray. The set was built by Bobby White of 'SceneMaker', who worked with Dympna and the Directors from the design phase of the project, to construction and the striking of the set after the last performance.


'The Mai' programme

Programme cover Programme cover

The 'The Mai' programme is available here in two formats. The smaller PDF (735 KB) has compressed images, but has more than enough detail for viewing on screen.

The much larger PDF (3,718 KB) is a higher resolution version suitable for output to a colour printer.

To open the document, left-click on one of the links above. To download a copy of one of the PDF files, right-click on the 'smaller' or 'larger' link above and select "Save as....."

The programme, designed and written by Declan Brennan, was created as an A5 eight-page booklet. The PDF of the artwork shows the front and back covers as two separate pages, with the other pages shown as two-page spreads.


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Pictures taken at a performance on Thursday 29 March 2012

The full set of pictures taken during the performance are in the slideshow above, just below the cast and crew credits. Here's a small selection of the many pictures taken. To view and/or download any of the pictures, visit to see the '2011 - Aristocrats' gallery and all of the available collections of images.

Sean Ahern
Seán Ahern (Robert)
Doris Cullen & Caroline Williams
Doris Cullen (Grandma) & Caroline Williams (The Mai)












Mary Ryan
Mary Ryan (Agnes)
Muriel Caslin O'Hagan
Muriel Caslin-O'Hagan (Julie)













Judy McKeever
Judy McKeever (Beck)
Caitlin Higgins Ni Chinneide
Cáitlín Higgins Ní Chinnéide (Millie)













The MaiSean Ahern (Robert) and Caroline Williams (The Mai)
Judy McKeever & Doris Cullen Judy McKeever (Beck) and Doris Cullen (Grandma Fraochlan)
Hilary Madigan, Doris Cullen &and Caroline Williams Hilary Madigan (Connie), Doris Cullen (Grandma Fraochlan) and Caroline Williams (The Mai)


The Mai


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