Lovers at Versailles
By Bernard Farrell
28 March - 2 April, 2011
The boyfriend comes to tea
Anna under pressure to stay
Isobel takes it out on Tony
Father explains to Anna
A wonderful play that may well bring a tear to the eye as it examines the plight of three women who are left behind when Stephen Sullivan suddenly dies. His wife, Clara, always suspected that Stephen had a hidden life. His daughter, Isobel, is determined to use every opportunity to move up the social ladder and Anna, Stephen’s favourite daughter, is now offered a second chance at happiness.
I think that the members of the Bingley selection committee are to be
complimented for their discovery of tonight’s play. I don’t think that there
have been any other productions of “Lovers at Versailles” in the area, but
I’m sure that other societies will be eager to include it in future seasons if
they see it here, and see what an excellent piece of theatre it is. Bernard
Farrell’s play was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 2002.
He was born in the area in 1939 and most of his plays have had their
premieres there. The recipient of various awards and honours including
the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, his best-known play is “I Do Not Like
Thee, Doctor Fell”. His writing for radio and television has been prolific,
but restricted mostly to Ireland, where he lives in County Wicklow.
Tonight’s play, with its subtle and amusing title (which might have misled you) is beautifully constructed. It is a very funny, and at the same time highly-dramatic and sentimental play. The playwright has given his actors great challenges with superbly-drawn characters, some ruthless and selfseeking, some disillusioned and frustrated and others gentler and torn between feelings of responsibility and a yearning to discover happiness for themselves. Strangely, Mr. Farrell, an Irishman himself, has given us a delightfully funny character in Tony, the not-too-bright Irish man, when I thought it was non- P.C. to include such stereotypes these days. And speaking of that title, there is a priceless example here of art-reflectinglife- reflecting-art in that the title is based upon that silly mistake we often make when we mis-hear or misunderstand the words of a song. And ironically, Mr. Farrell has done the same thing himself, unless there is a mis-print in our copies of the play. I have always understood the words of the song to be “Another day OLDER and deeper in debt”, but Mr. Farrell quotes them as “Another day OVER, and deeper in debt”. How’s that for a co-incidence?
Hopefully, our play will provide you with an evening in the theatre very different from the “norm” and that you will enjoy it.