GALWAY’S FREGOLI Theatre Company makes its first appearance of the new year at the Town Hall Theatre Studio next week with the world premiere of Maria Tivnan’s one-act play, Let Me Be.
Let Me Be explores the close relationship between two sisters, Laura and Molly, who go to live with their alcoholic grandmother after their mother’s death. Though they are very different personalities, the sisters’ deep bond and mutual support helps them deal with life’s troubles, while Tivnan’s script offers a sensitive, tender portrayal of childhood and sisterhood.
Let Me Be is Tivnan’s second play and builds on the promise shown by her debut work, The Sweet Shop, which Fregoli staged last year. Reviewing that play, Irish Theatre Magazine particularly praised Tivnan’s writing, noting her ability to blend “moving poetry with humorous vernacular” and to “find immense beauty within modest subject matter”.
These are qualities which are again evident in Let Me Be. Interestingly, there are some thematic echoes from the earlier play which also touched on subjects of close childhood relationships, the struggles of growing up, and dysfunctional families.
For this production Tivnan takes the role of the elder sister, Laura. Protective of her younger sister Molly (played by Kate Murray ), Laura presents a veneer of toughness and, as she gets older, she starts skipping school, sneaking out at night, and becoming wayward.
Behind her devilry and bravura however lies a vulnerability and sense of loss. Molly, by contrast, is academically bright with a flair for language and storytelling – one of the touching aspects of the sisters’ closeness is the way Laura occasionally asks Molly to tell her a story, as she finds consolation in the imaginative flights of her sibling.
“Myself and Kate had an idea last May to do a short play about two kids who didn’t want to grow up,” Tivnan tells me, as she describes the inspiration for Let Me Be. “The kids would make a wish that they would never grow up that would then go horribly wrong. I kept that idea in my head and thought about it a lot and that became Let Me Be.
“A lot of the play would be inspired by my job as a youth worker, and there would be bits from my own life as well. Also, there is a beach in Indreabhán where there is a big rock that is mentioned in the play. I remember kids I worked with talking about this ‘Dragon Rock’ and Laura and Molly see it when they have a trip to the seaside.”
Tivnan offers her perspective on the two sisters who are the focus of the play.
“The sisters have this incredible bond but they are very different people,” she says. “They share the same path and the same hurt but they deal with it in very different ways. Molly is a more rounded individual, she probably doesn’t have as many blocks in her head as Laura does, she’s easier on life and finds joy more easily.
“I suppose she was protected more and she has a warmer outlook. Laura is what you would think of as the tough one but in reality she is not as well equipped to cope with the world as Molly may be.”
Let Me Be is directed by Tracy Bruen and Tivnan declares that rehearsals for the play are going well.
“Tracy last directed with us a year ago and it’s great now because she has a really fresh perspective,” says Tivnan. “She is also very good at interpreting a text and ironing out any faults. She really ‘gets’ the two girls and she is bringing out stuff in the text that I would have intended but not made obvious.”
Following its run in Galway, Let Me Be embarks on a short tour taking in dates in Cork, Dublin, and Limerick. Certainly, the calibre of the writing augurs well for its success.
Galway audiences can see for themselves when Let Me Be runs at the Town Hall Studio from Monday February 4 to Wednesday 6 at 8.30pm.
Tickets are €12/10 and are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie