Anyone who came along to the final Short Cuts event at Live Theatre back in 2012 saw an early version of Iris. You’d be hard pressed to recognise it, mind. Back then Julie was a wannabe Cher impersonator, the play was four acts long with a cast of six and called The Day We Rode The Shuggy Boat. It’s not just the title that has changed since then – it’s a lot trimmer, half the characters have been culled and there’s not a Cher classic to be heard.
My plays often start with a visual image. Something striking or odd that sets me wondering ‘what would happen if …?’. The image that set the Iris wheels in motion is both striking and odd, and a bit disgusting, but I can’t tell you what it is. Spoilers.
What I can say is that it got me thinking about the need to be able to look ourselves in the eye. What we see in our reflection versus what other people see. And what if we don’t like what we see? There’s also a lot about sisterhood and motherhood; about legacy, who and what we leave behind.
Iris is dark and funny, it’s got its quirks, its twists in the tale. At its heart are sisters Julie and Ruby. They’re pretty dark and funny too, with their own quirks and twists. They’re damaged and conflicted, needy, they make mistakes. They’re also funny and clever and never slow with a comeback. Into their already fractious relationship comes Gerry, a loving father who enjoys a crossword and is desperate – really desperate – to help.
I have loved writing all three of the characters. They’re not always right or likable, but that’s ok. They’re people who are coping (or failing to) with an unusual and extreme situation. Actors Katy Cavanagh, Sam Neale and Joe Caffrey are doing a fabulous job getting to grips with them and I can’t wait for audiences to meet them.
I’m delighted to have Max Roberts directing. It’s been great working with him, along with Gez Casey and the Literary Team, on the play’s development. And it’s getting up on its feet now we’re into rehearsals. I love rehearsals, the play coming alive – that idea for a scene I had whilst sitting on the bus, those words on a screen I typed at my desk, now living, breathing people with a set and costumes and lights and all of it.
So, yeah. It’s been a long road from that Short Cuts night to the main stage but here we are. I’d love to see you there.
And never say never about there being a Cher song, eh.
Iris opens next week at Live Theatre and runs from Wednesday 6 to Saturday 30 April. Tickets cost from £22-£10, over 60s concs £16-£10, other concs £15-£6. Find out more and buy tickets