Church Hill Lovers

November 15, 2015 | By | Reply More

Friel’s Lovers for Leitheatre

Fans of the late great Irish playwright Brian Friel should be in for a treat this week as Leitheatre revives one of his early plays, Lovers, at the Church Hill Theatre.

First performed at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in 1967, Lovers is a pair of distinct but linked plays which take a bittersweet look at the relationship between romance and the church in Ireland. Leitheatre will stage them for four nights only, Wednesday 18 – Saturday 21 November 2015.

Winners - Phyllis Ross, Chloe McIntyre, Don Arnott (director), Ali Robertson and Brian Thomson. Photo Leitheatre

Winners – Phyllis Ross, Chloe McIntyre, Don Arnott (director), Ali Robertson and Brian Thomson. Photo Leitheatre

The first, Winners, finds Mag and Joe blinded to their future by their unsophisticated teenage love. Found revising together for their school exams on a summer morning, they are bound to be married – whether they want it or not – as she is pregnant.

The second half, Losers, finds an older couple, Hannah and Andy, trying to forge a relationship under the cold gaze of her bedridden mother. They are consistently interrupted in their attempts at romance by her ringing bell and demands for prayers. Nor does the staunchly religious nosy neighbour Cissy, help their plans.

“The plays explore the diversities and complexities of two different sides of love,” says director of Winners, Don Arnott, “told skilfully with a blend of pathos and humour.

“Just as rehearsals were underway, we were sad to hear of the death of award-winning playwright Brian Friel on 2nd October. So our November production of his play is something of a tribute to this fine writer.”

plays with time

Although popular when it was first staged – getting a two month run on Broadway – Lovers is less well known than some of Friel’s later plays such Dancing at Lughanasa, Translations or Faith Healer.

Losers - Euan McIntyre, Fiona Robertson, Lynne Morris (standing) and Sally Pagan. Photo: Leitheatre

Losers – Euan McIntyre, Fiona Robertson, Lynne Morris (standing) and Sally Pagan. Photo: Leitheatre

Like many of Friel’s early scripts, Lovers plays with time and the audience’s knowledge of what is going to happen. In Winners, a pair of narrators provide a parallel version of the future which echoes the young lover’s dialogue. In Losers, the lovers’ fate is also revealed even as they are living the present.

Lovers was performed in Edinburgh in 1999 at the Lyceum, when Kenny Ireland directed the young Katherine Igoe and Patrick Moy in Winners. Real life husband and wife Russell Hunter and Una McLean played Losers‘ Andy and Hannah, and were perfectly suited to Friel’s ability to bring sturdy naturalistic langauge to the stage.

Off stage relationships also feature in Leitheatre’s production, with a particularly fascinating twist in a pair of parent-child relationships.

Fiona Robertson, who plays Hannah in Losers, is the mother of Alistair Robertson, who plays Joe in Winners. Playing against him in the role of Mag is Chloe McIntyre, whose father, Euan McIntyre, plays Andy in Losers.

Completing the cast of Winners are Phyllis Ross and Brian Thomson in the roles of the narrators. In Losers, Lynne Morris will play the bedridden mother, Mrs Wilson, with Sally Pagan as the nosey neighbour Cissy. Direction is by Don Arnott and Effie Robertson.

Listing

Lovers
Church Hill Theatre, 33a Morningside Road, EH10 4DR
Wednesday 18 – Saturday 21 November 2015.
Daily: 7.30pm.
Tickets £10 (£9 Concs.) from the Queen’s Hall Box Office, 85-89 Clerk St, EH8 9JG
Tel. 0131 668 2019 or on-line at www.thequeenshall.net or at venue on performance nights.

Click the image below to purchase the script from Amazon.

ENDS

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