This month, Irish author Edna O’Brien revisits her era-defining novel The Country Girls, adapting the story for the Abbey Theatre stage.
Published in 1960, the novel tells the tale of Caithleen “Kate” Brady and Bridget “Baba” Brennan – two young Irish country girls who have spent their childhood together. As they leave the safety of their convent school in search of life and love in the big city, they struggle to maintain their somewhat tumultuous relationship. Cait, dreamy and romantic, yearns for true love, while Baba just wants to experience the life of a single girl.
Often credited with breaking silence on sexual matters and social issues in a period when the Catholic Church held influence over life in Ireland, the novel was banned in the country by the authorities and publicly burned by the clergy.
Notoriety quickly turned to fame, however, as the coming of age story became a best-seller, achieving critical acclaim internationally. It was even adapted into a 1983 film starring Sam Neill for which O’Brien wrote the screenplay.
This new stage version of The Country Girls will run from February 23 until April 6 at the Abbey Theatre. Following this, it will be performed at the Cork Opera House (April 16 – 20), Town Hall Theatre, Galway (April 23 – 27) and the Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick (April 30 – May 4).
Tickets for the Abbey performances cost from €13. However, one can see the play for free on February 23 as part of the theatre’s Free First Preview scheme. Set up to encourage more to attend the Abbey, tickets are only available on the night, limited to one person and issued on a first come, first served basis.
They will be handed out from 6:30pm. However, the Abbey encourages those interested to arrive earlier as queues will form outside the building.
Other noteworthy plays to grace the Abbey stages in the coming months include docudrama It was easy (in the end), focusing on a company of millennial artists who have moved off the grid to live by a new philosophy; Lee Coffey’s new play In Our Veins, following the Carrick family through 100 years of Dublin, from the notorious madams of the Monto to love in the dark tenements; and Mark Doherty’s Trad, centring on the relationship between an 100-year-old Irishman and his father.
For more details or to purchase tickets, visit the Abbey Theatre’s website.
Featured Image Credit – Shane Connaughton