Greener | Interview with Fiona Looney
Six years ago Pauline McLynn and Deirdre O'Kane played best friends and neighbours in Fiona Looney's debut play, the smash-hit, sold-out show Dandelions.
Now they're back - a little older, though not necessarily wiser. Fiona Looney's gloriously funny, heartbreaking new play opens at the Gaiety this spring. Greener. Be careful what you wish for. She talks here to Caomhan Keane.
Tell me about Greener?
Greener is the third part of the accidental Dandelions trilogy. Dandelions was about friendship, October was about Family and Greener is about Marriage. That's putting it into massive brush strokes. Greener finds Deirdre and Pauline's characters seven years on from Dandelions, Pauline's youngest child is doing his Leaving Cert and threatening to emigrate. So it takes women into that place where their entire raison d'être for years has been bringing up kids and minding them and setting them in the right direction. And suddenly they are gone and they have to go 'hang on. Do I want to stay in this empty house? This marriage? This world?' So that's where we find them. I throw a lottery win into the mix. Not a massive lottery win. When I wrote the frame of this two years ago it wasn't a life-changing amount, I chose the figure because you wouldn't be able to buy a house with it. But Jesus, now you could buy a house for it. So the play is about unexpectedly taking control and what you can do with that.
You call it the accidental trilogy?
Dandelions was written as a stand-alone play. But because it was so successful and so popular and people enjoyed it so much Anne Clarke said 'you have to do another one, you have to do another one'. And we had only opened October when she said, 'Well it would just be bad manners not to do three'. But I was adamant that this would be the last one. But she doesn't die. A lot of people have said someone must die if it's the last one. That's not the case. But there is only so, so far you could take them.
You have a great cast. How much of a role did you have in that?
Anne Clarke asked me to write a play and she said that somebody that she would really like to see in a play, because she hadn't seen her take a lead role in the Irish stage, would be Deirdre O Kane. I took that on board but I very quickly discovered that there were two main characters. I had worked with Pauline before so I wanted to bring her in as the other voice. And that's how that started. Pauline is the common thread to the three plays. Because it was so successful it has allowed me to be so involved with the other two.
Michael Baker Caven is out and Jimmy Fay is in, in the director's chair. Can you tell me the reasons for this and the differences between the two?
Because he is now the creator director of the Everyman down in Cork. He just wasn't available. When it became clear to us that this was the case, Jimmy Fay was absolutely my choice and my FIRST choice. I didn't know him at all but a lot of the stuff I had seen him do I loved, like the anarchic, energetic, innovative production of True West and I remember at the time thinking, 'oh yeah, must remember his name. We like him." I thought he was the director who had a really broad range of abilities. This is a little more abstract than the other two plays. So I wanted a director who could direct actors in a stage that looked like someone's kitchen, making jokes about Kerry Katona but who wasn't afraid to break the fourth wall and to just explore technical sort of stuff.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Tuesday 1st May 2012 | Theatre
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