Conor Grimes and Kevin McAleer’s new play SPUD! (31 Aug – 14 Sept) is due to premiere at the Lyric Theatre later this year. Set in rural Ireland in the black year of 1847 it has been described as ‘a deep, dark comedy from the moral grey zone’. Directed by Conleth Hill this adventure into uncharted waters, with strong historical undercurrents will have you laughing all the way to the workhouse.

Grimes and McAleer also star in this piece set in the humble rural cottage of the Story Brothers, Robert and Felix. The brothers have their backs to the wall, as the famine rages outside and threatens to come knocking at their door, if the bailiffs don’t get there first. But there is another battle being waged within – trust and affection between the brothers is even scarcer than food, and a crazy and complicated game of cat and mouse develops.

Talking about the play Kevin touches on its sensitive nature:

“Are we ready for a comedy about the Famine, or should we perhaps wait another hundred and seventy years for the dust to settle? That’s always the first question we get asked and rightly so. We’ve asked it ourselves over and over, before, during, and even after the writing process. Obviously we think we’ve pulled it off, or there would be no play.’

Co-writer Conor Grimes agrees. ‘We’re descendants of people who survived the famine, so we’re writing as insiders; it’s not done flippantly, and certainly not to shock. We share all those deep psychic scars from the past- the suffering, the hurt, the anger, the shame. The old cliché about comedy being rooted in tragedy- if that’s the case, we’re drinking from a very deep well.’

The script has a surreal feel but is underpinned by a lot of authentic background research. This was something which enticed director Conleth Hill to get on board. ‘I thought the early drafts were clever and funny, but I think audiences might also learn something along the way. There’s real substance mixed in with all the silliness.’

Spud! runs from 31 August – 14 September at the Lyric Theatre (7.30pm and 2.30pm). Tickets from £12 available now at www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or 028 9038 1081.

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