Offie-nominated If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You is a play of small dreams and big hopes. John O’Donovan’s working-class love story explores the ways people find love and kindness, even when oppression kicks them from all angles.
Loveable tearaways Mikey and Casey are stuck on a roof. As they wait for the Guards to stop circling the house, they find that there are some truths you can’t climb down from. Set twenty feet up, this raucous romantic drama follows two young men as they smoke, drink and snort their way towards discovering love.
We caught up with director, Thomas Martin to find out more.
You’re directing If We Got Some More Cocaine… at VAULT Festival, what can you tell us about it?
It’s a raucous romantic drama set on a roof. There’s a bag of drugs, some beautiful boys, a bit of kissing, and a big drop. It’s set in a small town in the west of Ireland, and John O’Donovan’s evocative script is sharp, vivid, and really really funny. It’s class, sure.
How did you get involved in the project?
I met the writer in 2015 at another play I’d directed, we hit it off, and I started pitching one of his earlier plays (Flights, which has since been picked up by Druid in Ireland) to some theatres. In the meantime, John wrote Cocaine as a short play for the Miniaturists, and we put it on there in early 2016 – I talked to Stewart Pringle (then AD) and Clive Judd (then Literary Manager) of the Old Red Lion, they loved the sound of it, and we took a slot at the Old Red in September of that year.
It’s already had a couple of successful runs, why is VAULT festival a great opportunity to bring it back?
I’ve always wanted to return to the characters of Mikey and Casey, so I’ve relished all my opportunities to revisit this play, and dig deeper into these charming, complex characters. VAULT audiences (in my experience) are always so generous and switched on, plus they’ve just the right amount of booze in them! The play started its life in London, and now that it’s toured not only to the writer’s homeland (Ireland) but also the setting of the play (Ennis), I was keen to complete the loop.
This production sees a new cast member paired with an original cast member, how do you think that will change the dynamic?
While there are certain facts about the characters that can never change, every actor brings a new lived experience to the world of the play. That means new approaches to fighting, flirting, and falling in love, and it’s been dreamy working Josh Williams (new in the role of Casey) through that process with Alan Mahon (returning as Mikey).
It explores a few different issues, how do you make sure they all get the attention they deserve?
I don’t really believe in ‘highlighting’ issues – a director’s job is to make sure that the actors understand any and all of the pressures their characters face, and to help that understanding affect and detail their performance. In the instance of Cocaine, those pressures include (but aren’t limited to): growing up gay in a place and time hostile to homosexuality; being transplanted from one’s home to somewhere hostile to one’s nationality; living in poverty; suffering physical abuse; never having experienced or understood love. If that makes Cocaine sound like a bit of a downer, it’s equally important to remember that one of the primary ways we process these traumas and oppressions is through humour! So there’s lots and lots of jokes.
Why do you think it’s important for theatre to tackle these kind of issues?
The best we can hope for as artists is that the stories we tell are new and surprising. The more an audience is pushed outside of its lived experience, the more empathy it gathers and the deeper it thinks and feels. If it manages to have a good laugh along the way, all the better.
If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You is at VAULT Festival Wednesday 14th – Sunday 25th February 2018.