In her hilarious play ‘The Curse of the Button Accordion’ comedian Sharon Mannion is a worrisome child. She worries about the end of the world; about giant meteorites hurtling from the sky and destroying everything in their path, starting with Roscommon. Mostly she worries about pleasing her ex-showband father and Midwest FM radio-loving mother.
After discovering she can play an old tin whistle, local attention ignites a desire to strive for musical stardom. With the encouragement of her parents, and because her name sounds a lot like Sharon Shannon, that shot at the bigtime arrives in the form of a button accordion. Sharon immediately falls in love with the exotic instrument and she’s the talk of the town. She names it Frank and he quickly becomes her comfort, her solace, her friend.
But beautiful beginnings crack under the pressure of competition. Sharon’s fingers slip from their notes and in horror, she realises the accordion is hell bent on her destruction. That Frank might even have her cursed…
We asked writer/performer Sharon Mannion a few questions about her new comic hit that’s coming to Nenagh Arts Centre on Saturday 15th September.
How would you describe the show? “It’s a coming of age story really, a comedy about one girl’s quest to live up to her parents expectations by becoming a superstar accordion player. Unfortunately the accordion has other ideas.”
Where did the inspiration for the story come from? “It’s essentially my story about growing up in rural Roscommon and having all these mad ideas in my head about what my parents expected of me. I was quite the worrier as a child, I worried about the end of the world, the third secret of Fatima…It was only in later years I realised that nobody else was freaking out about all this stuff. There’s a moment in the show where I freeze on stage with the accordion, and from then on I’m convinced it’s turned against me. That’s pretty much true to life.”
What has been the audience reaction so far? “Great, audiences are really enjoying it which is lovely. I think people can relate to the idea of being your own worst enemy in terms of putting pressure on yourself. Also, anyone who grew up in the 80’s and/or has Irish parents will probably recognise their childhoods.”
Have you always preferred to perform comedy? “Well I went to acting college and had very grand ideas about being a serious actor. In fact, I used to be incredibly upset when I got cast in funny or quirky roles. Nowadays I love comedy, and it’s where I do the bulk of my work. I still do the odd serious role which I love, particularly when it tackles something important. I was thrilled to have a small role in the recent Irish feature Michael Inside which looks at one young man’s journey through the Irish prison system. Overall, my heart is in making people laugh though.”
Did you ever secretly dream of being Sharon Shannon? “Of course! Not least because her name sounds so like mine. And to be fair, there weren’t a lot of other female accordion players around to aspire to. She features in the show and becomes an arch nemesis of sorts. She hasn’t seen it yet but hopefully she will soon, I think she’ll get a kick out of it.”
How much of the script draws from real life? “A lot! It’s heightened for comedic/dramatic effect but it’s pretty much all me. I’d like to think I’m not quite as insane as the Sharon in the show but to be honest, I can’t be sure.”
Catch up with Sharon and her cursed accordion when she takes to the stage at Nenagh Arts Centre on Saturday 15th September at 8pm.