A colleague, Lucy Barnard, is doing an MA in creative writing at Birkbeck and last term the focus was plays. We've chatted plenty about what we've seen recently and swapped play texts. Of course it's not about existing work but creating an original piece.
Lucy asked me to 'review' the short play she's written, a play that has never been performed other than a class read through and that I've only ever read. I agreed on the proviso that when she is a famous playwright she'll invite me to the premieres of all her plays.
Seems a fair deal to me but the problem is, of course, that no one reading this will have read* her play. However, a promise is a promise.
So what's it about? Well it's called Ghost Estate, the name referring to the housing boom and bust in Ireland:
"We've got no choice. We spent all our money buying this place - and now it's worthless and we're stuck. We're up the proverbial creek without so much as a stick."
David who is English has moved to Ireland with his Irish wife Siobhan and they are preparing for their young son's birthday party. It becomes quickly evident that the marriage has been through a rocky patch and this is a fresh start, or rather an attempt at it because resentment and suspicion still run deep:
"OK. I'm not having an affair. I'm so un-sexually active I even found myself wanking to one of Toby's Manga comics last week - which I assure you alarms me much more than it could possibly alarm anyone else."
But the outside influences don't just emanate from past infidelity, perceived or otherwise, as becomes clear when the couple have an unexpected visitor.
So what is it like? Well it is safe to say that I wouldn't be writing about it if I didn't think it was any good. In fact I enjoyed reading it very much. It is probably best described as a darkly comic psychological thriller. I laughed out loud more than once and it has some nice twists and turns along the way. I'd be curious to see how it translates onto the stage.
It is certainly the equal to what I've seen recently at the First Draft festival, so now it's over to you Lucy, go forth and become a famous playwright....
* Naturally Lucy is happy for as many people as possible to read her play so if you'd like a copy email me and I'll pass on your details.