Trailblazing gay love story The Haunted Host to open in Smock Alley Theatre

The show caused a stir at its original staging in 1964 due to frank discussions about homosexuality.

A scene from The Haunted Host consisting of a black and white photo of two men, one gripping the other's collar

When Robert Patrick’s stage play The Haunted Host premiered in Greenwich Village back in 1964, it did so illegally, due to its explicit portrayal of homosexuality. Now, however, it will play in one of the Irish capital’s most revered theatrical venues – Smock Alley Theatre – a sign of how times have changed in the interim.

Coming a half decade before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 The Haunted Host was one of many artistic catalysts that propelled the early Gay Rights Movement in the United States. When prominent actors at the time feared starring in the piece in case it affected their careers, writer Patrick played the lead role himself. 

Patrick is now recognised as a prolific pioneer in gay theatre, as well as the off-off-Broadway scene, with over 300 productions of his plays in New York in the 1960’s alone.

The story concerns Jay – an eccentric Greenwich Village man with a gift for playwriting. He is haunted by the untimely passing of his former lover, Ed. Frank is a young, straight man in search of a playwriting mentor and a place to stay for the night.

When Jay opens the door to realise that Frank is a dead-ringer for the late Ed, he sees an opportunity to re-enact the past and absolve himself of old sins. Consisting of lightning-fast dialogue, the play speaks about art; gender; drugs; society; death; sexual orientation; friendship; love and how much you can give to a person without losing yourself in the process.

This particular staging of the show is presented by Melia Theatre Company, making their dramatic debut with this Irish premiere. The show is directed by and starring Mark O’Reilly and co-starring Kevin McMahon. 

It runs in Smock Alley Theatre Boys’ School from the 4th until the 8th of November.

Tickets for The Haunted Host are available from the Smock Alley Theatre website here.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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