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Irish get peek at LeBute, Friel

One-person show slated to start in fall

DUBLIN — Neil LaBute will direct the world premiere of his latest play, “Wrecks,” at the Everyman Palace Theater in Cork later this year, as part of that city’s European Capital of Culture 2005 program.

The production is the brainchild of the Everyman Palace’s artistic director Patrick Talbot, who met LaBute when the writer’s earlier plays, “Bash” and “The Shape of Things,” were staged in 2001 and 2002, respectively, at Dublin’s Gate Theater, where Talbot then was a production manager. When Talbot moved to the Cork venue later in 2002, he invited LaBute to present his work there, and negotiations have been under way since.

“Wrecks” is a one-person show that’s slated to premiere in late September or early October.

The Gate, meanwhile, is extending its fruitful recent relationship with Ireland’s most respected living playwright, Brian Friel. The Gate premieres Friel’s first full-length play in eight years, “The Home Place,” starting Feb. 1; and will revive Friel’s midcareer masterpiece “Faith Healer,” starring Ralph Fiennes, later this year or in early 2006. (According to a Gate rep, thesp is firmly committed to perform in “Faith Healer,” but a definite schedule is pending.)

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Adrian Noble will direct “The Home Place,” and Tom Courtenay, Hugh O’Conor and Derbhle Crotty star. Set, like most of Friel’s plays, in the fictional Donegal town of Ballybeg, it places the disturbance caused in one family by the visit of an English relative against the backdrop of late 19th-century political unrest leading to Ireland’s war of independence.

In recent years Friel, who is 76, has written short plays and one-acts, many based on Chekhov’s works; many had wondered if he would write a full-length play again.

The Gate also reports that negotiations are under way to bring Conor McPherson’s latest, “Shining City,” to New York later this year. The play received strong reviews when it played in London and Dublin last year under McPherson’s direction.