Desperate housewives

Rebecca Hadrill is playwright Bill Roche's cousin
Rebecca Hadrill is playwright Bill Roche’s cousin

By David Hennessy

Three Irish actors and a London-Irish director will present a performance of James McLure’s Laundry and Bourbon as part of the LOST theatre’s One Act Festival that runs May 26- June 1. James O’Donnell directs Rebeccca Haddrill, Claire Conroy and Jacqui Shiel.

The play is set in Texas and explores the marriage difficulties of three young housewives in the aftermath of the Vietnam war.

Rebecca Hadrill suggested the piece as she had performed it before. Rebecca has much stage experience, mostly at home in Wexford, and appeared in Gavin McAlinden’s Playboy of the Western World at The Corrib Rest.

Rebecca told The Irish World: “I think it will be a really good piece. It’s a comedy but there’s three really strong characters with different stories so I think people will enjoy it.

“I had done the play in Wexford and because the three of us are quite different, I thought it could work really well and I think we all really suit the characters we’re playing, we all bring our personal lives to them as well.”

Before moving to London, Rebecca was involved with Wexford Light Opera Society and featured in Eoin Colfer’s musical, Lords of Love. He has also a famous cousin as Bill Roche, the playwright whose A Handful of Stars is recently played at Theatre503, is her cousin.

While work has precluded Rebecca from taking part in as much theatrics as she would have liked since she moved to London two years ago, she says: “I’m delighted to be doing something and if you want to perform, you can put something on. I think that’s a nice attitude to have because you can sit around and wait for things to happen but you’re better off being proactive about it yourself. There’s lots of talented people in London that you can bring together and put on something amazing.

“It’s also important to remember the reason why you do it. It’s great healing as well because you’re exploring all these emotions as well and expressing them through a character but in a very safe place . I think that’s a wonderful thing as well.”

Jacqui Shiel
Jacqui Shiel

Rebecca’s cast mate Jacqui Shiel is familiar with the LOST theatre: “I worked with LOST theatre before. They are an amazing company to work with, they are really pivotal on the London fringe and have been around for decades [the theatre is celebrating its 30th birthday this year]. They do everything to help which is really refreshing.

“Rebecca came up with this play which is well known in the states but probably not so well known here. We just went with it.”

Is it a stretch for young actresses to play frustrated housewives? Jacqui says: “They were quite young to be married anyway. They married straight out of school so they would probably be around our age now so it’s not too much of a stretch. They’re all living the mundane middle America life and certainly my character Hattie just rushed into marriage with the first guy she could find after being jilted by the love of her life. Now she’s got three kids and I think it’s starting to dawn on her that it’s not that easy and that marriage does mean forever. I don’t think when she was an 19 year old, she got the concept of forever, they’re all dealing with it.

“James is an amazing director. He’s very thorough, knows what he wants and he’s also not afraid to let us play and experiment with things. I feel really safe but also that I can go to different places and make mistakes and find out what works and what doesn’t work.”

Jacqui grew up in South Africa to Irish parents and also has famous relatives with poet Pat Ingoldsby being her uncle. The playwright Maeve Ingoldsby is her mother’s cousin: “I probably get my acting influence from my mum’s side of the family.”

The three actresses and director got to know each other from Gavin McAlinden’s acting gym that have performed Russian classics at Theatro Technis. James O’Donnell was the helm of The Parasite.

Claire Conroy plays Amy Lee
Claire Conroy plays Amy Lee

Claire Conroy from Enniskillen who plays Amy Lee says: “Me and the other girls met doing The Playboy and the good thing about that is that you do get to meet other actors, other artists and then you can collaborate on other projects. What we found was that we just got on really well and that we had quite a good range between us to do a piece and it just happened that Rebecca had done this production before so it came up in conversation and we just went for it.”

And they have certainly not gone for an easy option with the three Irish actors choosing an American piece. Claire continues: “It’s a stretch in terms of the accent. It is quite challenging to pin down the accent but that’s integral to the whole play so we did give ourselves a good challenge but in terms of characters, they are our age. Their ideals were a lot different but I think we’re pretty well cast.

“Even though the roles are housewives, they’re quite childish in their mentality. They’re still thinking like schoolgirls. Even though they’re housewives, they’re stuck in high school and still mad about boys and they’re not handling having children. They’re young girls trying to readjust to the option that was back then: You have kids and you stay in the house. They’re frustrated with having to have that kind of a life but that reflects the time and the options that weren’t really there.”

Laundry and Bourbon is at The LOST Theatre at 7.30pm on May 31. For more information, go to:

For more information on LOST Theatre, go to:


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