A Quickie With 'Mother's Little Treasure' Writer Simon Murphy

Simon Murphy, author of the raucous new comedy play 'Mother's Little Treasure', spoke to GCN about queer theatre, comic inspirations and why we should support independent companies.

The poster for the play Mother's Little Treasure featuring an animated image of the legs of two women reclining on deckchairs at a beach resort

Mother’s Little Treasure, a hilarious new comedy, opens tomorrow in the Pearse Centre and runs until Saturday. We had a chat with writer Simon Murphy in advance of the big night.

If you could describe Mother’s Little Treasure in one sentence what would it be?

It is a tale of Raheny and revenge, leopard-print and Tenerife and a mother’s undying love for her white-collar criminal son.

What can audiences expect ?

This is a raucous comedy with a warm heart, about Maureen Moore – a woman with grand ideas, but an unfortunate taste for leopard-print clothing. She is sitting one evening in her graciously appointed Raheny kitchen, putting the world to rights with her judgemental, side-kick Carol. The doorbell rings. Who is it, only Rosario – the girlfriend of Maureen’s jailed son Gary. Rosario has arrived to collect Gary’s passport. There is something Maureen is not being told. With Carol by her side she goes sleuthing. What she discovers shocks her to her very core.

What inspired you to write the show?

I had written a short comedic piece about two best ‘frenemies’ as part of a showcase of short plays last year. The audiences loved the characters of Maureen, Carol and Rosario, so they were brought back for another short play. Thanks to the richness of the characters (portrayed so brilliantly by Dympna Heffernan; Geraldine Crowley and Marta Callava) I decided they deserved a full treatment. On this full length outing they are joined by new characters played by Alan O’Connell and Paul Clarke (who has appeared in several Acting Out producitons).

Apart from Mother’s Little Treasure of course, what are your favourite queer theatre shows?

Where to start. The big Broadway shows like Cabaret or La Cage Aux Folles are incredible in their huge budget way. As was Rent the first time I saw it in the Olympia Theatre in the 1990s – that was fairly earth shattering to me. There is a rich tapestry in Irish queer theatre also – this year I enjoyed Come On Home by Philip McMahon. Silent by Pat Kinevane is outstanding.  If We Got Some More Cocaine, I Could Show You How I Love You by John O’Donovan is really impressive. Then with the Gay Theatre Festival there is always a great selection of LGBT+ plays – my favourites of recent years being Five Guys Chilling about the chemsex scene and Gypsy Queen.

Who are Firedoor Theatre, the production company behind Mother’s Little Treasure?

Firedoor Theatre was established in 2013 and has special interest in original writing including Focus by Sheena Lambert; The Lovers’ Guide To Losing Your Mind by Jason Coburn; Paint by Stephen Ryan;  and An Unexpected Party – the play I wrote for the 2017 International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.

What are the challenges you face in independent theatre?

Independent theatre tends to be self funded which makes it challenging to stage productions and to promote to a wide audience due to financial constraints. Theatre has sadly become a bit of a niche activity – whereas only a century ago there would be several theatres in even average sized towns. Considering the love and commitment that goes into each show I remind people that a ticket for Mother’s Little Treasure is marginally more expensive than a cinema ticket so it is a real bargain.

Who are your comedy heroes?

French and Saunders and Lumley.

Who would play you in the stage version of your life and what would it be called?

Paul O’Grady – I have been told that I look like a younger version of him. It would be called Murphy at the Oasis – that sounds suitably glamourous.

What would the LGBT+ community in particular love about the play?

I think the LGBT+ audience will appreciate a play featuring strong female characters in comedic situations and their lack of understanding of the ways of the modern world. It is not LGBT+ themed (although it features a lesbian hero named Monica).but I hope it will be enjoyable to the LGBT+ audience.

What’s the best piece of advice about theatre you’ve ever received?

That while you create theatre to satisfy your own creative urges you cannot disregard your audience. They are paying money and giving their time and have an expectation of you. You cannot be led by their desires entirely  but it is wise not to disregard them either. Theatre doesn’t always have to have a message. Comedy is just as valid as serious drama (and far more difficult to write and perform).

Tickets for Mother’s Little Treasure are available here.

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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