Girls in their Married Bliss – New Theatre – Review by Frank L
Girls in their Married Bliss – Selected Excerpts by Edna O’Brien
24th April – 27th April
Girls in their Married Bliss is the third novel in O’Brien’s The Country Girls trilogy. It was published in 1964. It describes the two heroines Kate (Katie O’Kelly) and Baba (Madi O’Carroll), from rural Ireland, at the stage of their story where they have left Ireland , following a sojourn in Dublin, and reached London. It is therefore set in a time when emigration in Ireland was part of the way of life and free secondary schooling did not exist. Pope Paul VI was the Pope, Eamon de Valera was the President and Sean Lemass the Taoiseach. Although Kate and Baba are living in London in the sixties they are not part of the ‘swinging sixties’ or anywhere remotely near it.
The format of the performance, which is part of the Dublin Unesco City of Literature Festival, has the two actors seated at a table reading from a script. However, their familiarity with the script allows them by means of minor bodily actions to embellish it. It also permits them to impersonate, with considerable skill, the two men in their lives who have become their husbands. The world in which they inhabit may be outside Ireland but the all-powerful presence of religion is still a dominant force in their lives.
What is remarkable about these excerpts is the fearlessness of O’Brien’s writing as each of these two women, particularly Baba, discuss their sexual needs and hopes locked in marriages where love is hard to discern. The novel was banned in Ireland. Its greatest crime was probably that it permitted two women to be heard discussing their sexual needs and hopes.
Although it was published over fifty years ago, O’Brien’s writing addresses presciently the issues concerning women that became common in Ireland in the subsequent years. These excerpts make for a fascinating insight into the mindset within which Irish young women had to grapple just a mere fifty years ago. It lasts approximately sixty minutes and it is time well spent watching and listening to O’Kelly and O’Carroll reveal O’Brien’s insights.
Cast – Katie O’Kelly and Madi O’Carroll
Directed by Deirdre Molloy
Curated by Jane McCarthy
Produced by Anthony Fox