By David Hennessy
A new play of interest to the Irish diaspora will premiere this month at the Brighton Fringe
THE witty play by Lorraine Mullaney Unclouded Moon explores womanhood and the shadows that haunt an Irish family in London.
It finds Nuala determined to bring her scattered family back to suburbia to celebrate the birth of her granddaughter. But her 15-year-old daughter, new mum, Sinead, fears the judgement of Nuala’s Catholic aunt, Sister Bernadette, because her boyfriend’s black.
Playwright Lorraine, who has heritage in Cavan and Clare and grew up in London, told The Irish World: “My goal was to write about women so there are different kinds of women in the play. There’s a nun, a feminist, a teenage mum and a classic Irish matriarch.
“I took archetypes of womanhood and subverted them showing that if you scratch the surface, there’s something else underneath. You look at a nun and you haven’t got this judgmental scary woman, she’s a real person underneath it all like we all are, but of course people can stereotype nuns and that’s one of the things that happens in the play.The family have stereotyped her and think she’s judgmental about the teenager mother but it turns out she’s more worldly than all the others. She’s not a nun who has lived in a convent praying all day, she’s been out in the community on the front line for social issues.
“It’s also about growing up in London with the older generation giving you Irish values but you’re being pulled in another direction by your friends who have the London values. Being second generation Irish, I think you get this push and pull and you’re kind of caught between two worlds really.”
Another character is Nuala’s sister Geraldine who is approaching 40 and can’t face celebrating the birth because her latest attempt to conceive a child with her gay best friend has just failed: “I wanted to again break the stereotype that you can have a baby. It doesn’t have to be in marriage. The woman who is trying for the baby is from a very traditional family so she’s broken all the rules.
“We’ve got the classic matriarch, the teenage mother and the nun who has not given birth but mothered women in many other ways, she’s a mother in the broader sense, and then you’ve got the feminist who is trying to get pregnant with her gay best friend. I waned to cover the scope of motherhood.”
Unclouded Moon is the first play by new writer Lorraine Mullaney. Aideen Howard, Literary Director, Abbey Theatre, Dublin, described the play as: “Refreshingly original. A timely meditation on the Irish Diaspora”.
Lorraine’s second play, In the Shadow of the Dual Carriageway was selected for performance at The Steyning Festival in 2012 and her short film Frankenbear was shortlisted for the Underwire Script Competition 2013.
Lorraine would love to see her story transfer to London and even Ireland, both locations where it will really resonate.
The piece is directed by John Dunne. In addition to running London Irish Theatre (www.irish-theatre.com), John Dunne has a wealth of experience as a writer, producer and director and manager of theatre companies. His most notable work includes his trilogy of Irish plays Famine, Easter and Belfast. He also writes for The Irish World.
The cast includes winner of Dublin Theatre Festival’s Best Actress Award Fiona Victory, and Fiona’s daughter Kathleen Cranham. Fiona’s extensive experience of theatre, film and television includes playing Harriet Wright in Shine on Harvey Moon alongside her husband, Kenneth Cranham. It also includes Victoria Porter who recently performed in the UK Premiere of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, adapted and directed by Tom Neill.
Unclouded Moon plays as part of the Brighton Fringe at the Meeting House venue and in association with London Irish Theatre at 4pm on May 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31. More info: brightonfringe.org.