AP hotel in an autumnal Dublin, where the wife of an ambitious politician secretly meets her old lover after 15 years. She soon discovers how dramatically their lives have changed, yet still determines to bridge the gulf between them and shape their future together, whatever it takes.
This is the premise of Red Handed, a new play written by Ian Patterson coming to the Town Hall Theatre studio in a production by Galway’s Hourglass Theatre Company. It promises to offer a compelling examination of self-deception, obsession and the law of unintended effect.
This is Hourglass’s second production at the venue, following their promising 2010 debut, Zed’s Erroneous Zones, also written by Patterson. After an afternoon’s rehearsal, Patterson - who also performs in Red Handed - took some time to talk about his new play and began by filling me in on what he has been doing since his company last graced the Town Hall.
“After Zed’s Erroneous Zones, I did a year studying acting in The Gaiety so I wasn’t really free to do any productions in that time,” he tells me. “Then I spent most of last year organising a production of The Field which took a lot of work. We did a touring production of The Field earlier this year, for school audiences, in January and February, we took it to places like Ennis and Sligo and also had two performances in Leisureland.”
Moving on to Red Handed, the principal characters are Rosie, a high-flying English politician’s wife who wants to get out of her marriage, and her old flame Johnny, who she hooks up with on a visit to Dublin hoping that he will assist her in her elaborate scheme to blackmail her husband into granting a divorce. In the years since the couple last met, their lives have taken radically different paths, Rosie is affluent and successful while Johnny has become little more than a deadbeat.
“They’re not based on anyone or any particular experiences,” Patterson declares. “I can’t even say why I picked two characters like Johnny and Rosie who are at opposite ends of the social scale. The starting point was just wondering what would happen if two lovers met again after fifteen years during which their lives had gone in very different directions.”
One of the most intriguing characters in the play is Laszlo, an east-European hotel security guard who Rosie ropes into her scheme in the course of the action. Laszlo oscillates between amiability and menace, at one minute talking about his hopes of starting a new life for himself and his family in Ireland and the next radiating threat and danger.
“Most of the characters in the play are from somewhere else. Aside from Johnny they are not Irish,” Patterson notes. “I thought that reflected the Ireland of today, particularly in Dublin where you have a very cosmopolitan population. Laszlo is a voluble character, but I didn’t give him a specific nationality, I left it vague.”
Red Handed is full of dark twists and turns, sudden jolts and volte-faces which should keep audiences on the edge of their seats. The play is directed by Fiona Kelly and the cast includes Patterson (Johnny), Sharon Prendeville (Rosie), Anthony Daly (Nigel), and Dominic Monot (Laszlo).
Red Handed runs at the Town Hall studio from Tuesday October 29 to Saturday November 2 at 8.30pm. Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie