Triple-bill of new plays from Fregoli

A WOMAN who talks to the walls, a girl who must face the sea, and a young man who collects footprints. These are the characters we encounter in a trio of new monologues presented by Fregoli Theatre Company.

The monologues, collected under the title of Shur I’ll Be Alright Here On Me Own, comes to the Town Hall Theatre Studio on Tuesday April 22 and Wednesday 23 at 8.30pm. All three monologues are written by Maria Tivnan, and individually are titled Mrs Pyromaniac, The Sole Collector, and Headfirst.

“It all started with Mrs Pyromaniac,” Tivnan tells me. “I wrote it last year and submitted it to Cúirt where it was shortlisted for the Short Fiction Prize. It was the first time I had ever written a short story. The character Mrs Pyromaniac remained in my head afterwards because I felt it could be staged. Then I had an idea for another character, and they were in my head for about a year. I realised these three characters were all lonely in different ways and expressing it in different ways.

“Headfirst and The Sole Collector were only written in January, around the same time. By that stage I had spoken to Kate Murray about Mrs Pyromaniac and she really liked it and wanted to direct it and adapt it for stage. That’s how it all came about.”

Mrs Pyromaniac centres on a middle-aged housewife whose children have left home and who finds herself dwelling on the thrill of a childhood act of arson. The writing has a lyrical quality which runs through all three monologues: “Everywhere grass was dying, meadows were stripped bare, left yellow and stumpy like an old man’s unshaven face.”

Interestingly for a monologue, the piece features two actors.

“In Mrs Pyromaniac there is a recorded voice-over as well as the character,” Tivnan explains. “The voice in her head is in the story as well. It’s like she has spent so long in the house on her own. It could be the house talking to her, or maybe her alter-ego. It’s ambiguous, but it’s not her own voice. Tracy Bruen does the recorded voice and Mary McHugh plays Mrs Pyromaniac.

“For me, Mrs Pyromaniac is like a grown up child, not in the sense she is immature but she never really left her home and everything she loved so much in it behind her. Also, since she lit her first fire at the age of six it’s something she has carried with her even though she is now in her fifties. I like her because she is quite playful but she is lost in a world that she never wanted really to be in.”

In The Sole Collector, a young man (played by Oisin Robbins ) is obsessed with feet.

“He’s not a psycho or anything like that but he is a little strange,” Tivnan observes. “I thought of different things that a person could collect, I wanted them to be connected somehow to an idea of purity, and innocence and beauty. So then I thought about the foot, because you do have people who have foot fetishes, though for this character it isn’t a sexual fetish.

“It’s like a quest, he collects footprints. He sees feet as being honest and he sees great beauty in their honesty. I don’t know if anything particular happened to him when he was younger, I just think he is one of those characters who was always a bit of an outcast all his life and this is his thing now. He feels he’s good at it and it gives him a sense of importance. I wanted all three characters to be likeable because I think it’s really important that no matter what they’re into the audience can connect with them.”

At the centre of Headfirst is a young woman (performed by Kate Murray ) nerving herself to have her first swim in the sea while reflecting on lost opportunities in her life, particularly on a might-have-been romance.

“With the title of that it plays on the idea of going head-first into something but with her it’s about always putting her head first over her heart,” says Tivnan. “She’s very logical and measured, everything is calculated, that’s just the kind of person she is. In the play she is getting ready to go into the unknown and the fact that she is making herself do this now, it’s not really that big of a task in itself but for her it represents a loosening up and getting away from the restraints she’s put on herself all through her life.”

Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 or www.tht.ie

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