Seamus O’Rourke and Arthur Riordan in From Under The Bed, which takes to the Lime Tree stage on Friday, April 6
PLAYWRIGHT Seamus O’Rourke has mined memories of his own childrood in rural Leitrim for a new play with real heart that is coming to the Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick.
From Under The Bed, in which O’Rourke also stars with Arthur Riordan, is a beautiful glance at rural Irish life in 1979, with direction by Bairbre Ni Chaoimh.
The story, which is full of heartache and humour, tells the tale of a pair of aging, rural, bachelor brothers who arrive at a point in their lives where decisions have to be made about certain things after years of scant communication between them.
The playwright explains that the characters are based on “two neighbours of mine that were around when I was growing up and they seemed absolutely normal at the time, but in hindsight, I realised they were anything but normal - in that they lived in a very small world and their lives were terribly simple and they didn’t talk to each other.
“I realised that these guys had to have something else to them and I didn’t know the facts, so the playwright in me took over,” he says.
With the purchase of TV to broaden their horizons, one subject leads to another and the next thing they are bringing up all kinds of issues that could have been “left under the bed”.
“I kept it as authentic as possible and used the language that they would have used - and we would have had no outside influences at that time when I grew up,” says Seamus.
“The play is set in 1979 and we would have been particularly backward and only had the TV for a few years at that stage, but these pair of guys didn’t have electricity up until that time.
“The first half of the play is a few weeks before the Pope’s visit. There is a lot about what a huge thing it was at the time - it was a crucial time in our culture, because - and it is mentioned in the play - most of our facts came from The Late Late Show at the time and Gay Byrne taught us about sex. There was no social media to influence us.
“It is very quirky because these guys speak in that very simple language and they don’t understand the bigger concept of what was going on in the world, so it is strange and that makes it very funny, a lot of the stuff that goes on between them. And of course, I had to set up a point in their lives where they had to come together and talk to each other,” he adds.
For Seamus, it was important to keep From Under The Bed true and authentic, even featuring “unusual dialogue”.
“I genuinely feel that there has been a lack of really good rural theatre around for quite a while and in some ways the void that was left by John B has never really been filled.
“You can try and be too clever and deep, in a sense, but I just want to bring theatre to a huge percentage of people who just want a good story, with a little bit of bite in it,” he adds.
- From Under The Bed takes to the Lime Tree stage on Friday, April 6. See www.limetreetheatre.ie for more.