lot of blood, sweat and tears of laughter goes into a good comedy show.
Just ask Éidin Griffin, whose Fierce Awkward charts the conversations between strangers in a small coastal town as they swing by a coffee van.
With the town going through a series of seemingly endless lockdowns, those conversations get a little wired and weird, and don’t-stir crazy.
Pic: Chris Dobson
Think Waiting For Gateaux. With the kick of coffee.
Written by and co-starring Éidin Griffin, this much-acclaimed play co-stars Peter Wright as the unwitting sparring partner and Seafra Griffin as the innocent bystander.
As Fierce Awkward comes to The Whale on Thursday, June 30th, we asked young Griffin to chart its journey from page to stage.
17th December 2021 Went to an earnest poetry reading at the Tap Tavern last night. It was hard work and I turned to my neighbor Peter afterwards and jokingly said, “I really thought that this would be so much funnier”. After he rolled his eyes at my flippancy, we started chatting about laughter and how much we need it. I suggested that we write a comedy. “Grand,” said Peter. “Just as long as it’s not about Covid.” He’s an actor whilst I’ve dipped in and out of amateur dramatics and stand-up, but I haven’t written anything worth reading – let alone performing – in a long time.
It’s a pipe dream fueled by a few whiskeys. Damn it, it’s somehow got to be about what we’ve all been through over the past two years. I’ve been in a quandary with friends and family members disagreeing over vaccination and mental health, and it’s so boring. How the hell is that funny?
3rd January 2022 I have a notebook book with some scrawled penciled in ideas. Peter suggests that we meet up to do a character development session. This sounds very professional. I am intrigued. It turns out we have completely different ideas of how things get produced. He thinks we’ll mostly improvise. I want a script. There is no way in any form of hell I’ll do this without a script. So I’m thinking I should probably be the one to write it.
It feels like there is something there though. It’s pretty messy. Rather similar to my notes. And brain.
5th February 2022 I write some more scenes and we meet up for a read through with another friend, who films bits of our session for us. He’s laughing out loud. Peter looks doubtful and I figure if we set a date to perform it’ll somehow magically come together. Build a field, and all that jazz. It’s definitely called Fierce Awkward, and it certainly feels it. Peter is committed to doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the college and we are trying to figure out how he can do manage both.
I have now started to tell people we are doing this ‘thing’ so am suddenly familiar with imposter syndrome and waking up at 4am panicking.
2nd March 2022 We visit the Tap Tavern to see Brian the proprietor and his famous 80-year-old mammy, Mary Tap. I leave the door unlatched and get shouted at. People have been banned for less. There are rules. Nobody stokes Marys’ pub fire or leaves the door ajar. No excess familiarity. Despite this we agree on some dates and how the venue will work and when we get outside in my elated state I leap into Peter’s arms to give him a hug.I forget he has a bad back. He staggers bravely and stays upright.
Mary with her son, Brian. Pic Dan Linehan
I must really try not to cripple him. We start having actual read throughs and Peter’s character arrives with an odd gait and an accent. It’s impressive and mildly disconcerting.
28th March 2022 Between Steve and Stuart the local carpenters (who I bribe with beer), we have the bones of our set built and I get creative with some paint and cobble together the props. I drag these up and down the hills of Kinsale looking like a homeless person. Katy Mullins agrees to be our silent actress but is too busy teaching sailing to rehearse much. Yvonne Coughlan, a local director, agrees to watch and give us a critique in the garden, and after a very clumsy read through in which she doesn’t as much as twitch a lip I am ready to throw myself off a cliff.
It turns out she was just concentrating and likes it a lot. I stop internally weeping. We better learn our lines. Time is speeding past.
8th April 2022 The last few days run-up to the shows feels frantic. People are phoning me about reserving tickets, I’m being stopped in the street by elderly men who have heard rumors that they may be quoted, my lines are driving me nuts. We end up doing a rehearsal in the local graveyard (quiet bunch) as the Tap was locked up one afternoon. Finally the big day arrives and the place begins to fill up. We are in Mary’s tiny parlor peeping through a small curtained window overlooking the venue. The excitement is palpable and there are people packed in all over the place. A very full house. Brian goes out to introduce us and Mary gives us a smile and wink from her seat by the fire.
We are bringing comedy back to Kinsale and it feels so bloody good.
Éidin Griffin’s Fierce Awkward is at The Whale on Thursday, June 30th at 8pm, tickets just €10 available here.
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