'Uncle Silas' a Victorian Gothic mystery thriller by Sheridan Le Fanu at The Project Arts Centre.

First written for serialisation in a magazine, 'Uncle Silas' tells the tale of a young woman at the mercy of a group of scheming and unscrupulous individuals, commanded by her amoral Uncle Silas.  

Currently playing in Dublin’s Project Arts Centre, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Gothic novel ‘Uncle Silas’ has been adapted for the stage by director Mary Elizabeth Burke Kennedy.  

A painting of Sheridan Le Fanu by Robert Ballagh has been loaned to the centre by Ballyfermot Vocational School and will hang in the centre for the duration of the play’s run.

Burke Kennedy read the novel many times as a child and wanted a modern audience to enjoy it as much as she does.  The music hall format developed from her collaboration with musician John Dunne, 

The idea of presenting the novel in terms of music hall really was a device to cope with the melodrama. The novel is a vast, Gothic melodrama, and I felt that it wouldn’t be accessible to a 1980s audience, so I wanted to give it some perspective...

Tim McDonnell plays the roles of Ivan The Illusionist, Austin Ruthyn, and also his brother Silas, a thoroughly bad character,

The decadent, laudanum-taking...voluptuary, who lives in Carriglea, isolated and alone.

A wheelchair user, Tim doesn’t see his disability as something which hampers the play’s performance.  To his mind, it brings an extra layer to the character of Silas, and all that he represents,

I suggested to the designer that it might be a good idea to build an old-fashioned chair...which could be pushed around, so it would appear in effect that Silas was somebody who very seldom did much for himself...not only having people push him around, but people feeding him laudanum, getting him glasses of wine...rather than it suggesting my disability personally, I think what it suggests, more than that, is his lifestyle.

This episode of ‘Evening Extra’ was broadcast on 18 January 1988.  The reporter is Siobhan Cleary.

'Evening Extra' was a nightly magazine programme which ran from Monday to Friday at 7 pm dealing with current issues and people in the news.  The first episode was aired on Monday 13 October 1986 and it ran for 278 shows over 2 years until the final show on 29 April 1988. The programme had numerous presenters and reporters including Siobhan Cleary, Richard Crowley, Bibi Baskin, Aonghus McAnally and Shay Healy.