“Why didn’t I have more sex when I could have?”
“You were too busy hoovering”
Thus goes a typical exchange in Marina Carr’s potent, bittersweet, and darkly funny play Woman and Scarecrow which comes to the Town Hall for one night only, in a compelling new staging by Belfast’s Prime Cut Productions.
On her deathbed a woman with eight children and a remorseful cheating husband surveys her life and imagines what else could have been. Full of bitter humour and brutal honesty this is a fierce, passionate, and beautiful lament probing one woman’s attitudes to death and the life that came before it.
Woman and Scarecrow premiered at London’s Royal Court in 2006 and received its first Irish production at the Abbey the following year. Prime Cut director Emma Jordan outlines what drew her to the play.
“I read play scripts all the time but when I read Woman and Scarecrow it just leapt out a mile for me,” she said. “I found the relationship between Woman and Scarecrow - who’s sort of her alter-ego - utterly fascinating. I also felt this would be a very good play for us to tour because Marina is one of our most important writers but her work isn’t seen that often outside Dublin. This production gives us a great chance to take her work to audiences in the regions, which we’re delighted to do.”
Jordan expands on the play’s central relationship between Woman and the mysterious figure of Scarecrow.
“It’s hard to pin down in some ways,” she says. “You could say Scarecrow represents Woman’s creativity, those gifts that she hasn’t really called upon throughout her life, her unfulfilled potential. But she is also a kind of eternal being, there is a sense that she will move on to someone else after Woman. So it’s quite a complex relationship.”
If the play is largely about the sadness of missed opportunities, it is also marked by moments of great beauty and a robust sense of humour - the latter trait embodied in the colourful Auntie Ah.
Prime Cut’s production benefits from a fine cast well fitted to do full justice to Carr’s work. Gina Moxley, who plays Woman, is herself a playwright of note as well as an accomplished actor who has featured in productions by the Abbey, Rough Magic, and Fishamble among others.
The role of Scarecrow is taken by Kathy Kiera Clarke who was recently shortlisted for an RNT/Ian Charleson Award for Best Actress for her Medea at Glasgow Citizens and she was previously nominated for a Best Actress IFTA for her part in Paul Greengrass’s film Bloody Sunday.
Completing the cast are Frank O’Sullivan (who has appeared in several Druid productions ) as Woman’s ex-husband and Helena Bereen as the larger than life Auntie Ah.
Woman and Scarecrow is at the Town Hall on Wednesday March 18 at 8pm. Tickets are €20/16 from 091 - 569777.