In all of the fantastic offerings at this year’s VAULT Festival, one title might stand out.
If We Got Some More Cocaine, I Could Show You How I Love You — yes, that’s the title– starts tonight, February 15, 2018 and runs through the 25th. Even if you’ve never done cocaine, or indulged in any crimes, even if you’re not Irish or gay or a Juggalo, this is a night well spent. John O’Donovan’s darkly comedic work, the tale of two lads stuck on a rooftop with a lot of drugs and the police breathing down their necks, won Best New Play at IARA Awards 2017 and the reviews in Ireland and the UK have been universally strong.
Pop Culture Beast spoke with the director, Thomas Martin
You’re directing If We Got Some More Cocaine… at VAULT Festival, a play with a pretty evocative title. What’s it really about?
It’s about two young gay men in rural Ireland. They’ve been out on a night of petty thievery and, pursued by the Guards, they find themselves hiding out on the roof of a house. As the night goes on, they find that there are some truths you can’t jump down from.
How well do you know the writer, John O’Donovan?
John and I have known each other for two years now – we met at another play that I directed, and immediately clicked. He’s a very good friend now.
What’s the history of the production? And why this year’s VAULT festival?
In late 2015 John was invited to write something for the short play night Miniaturists’ ten year anniversary, which I directed, and that ended up being a fifteen minute version of the story of Cocaine. I was talking to Stewart Pringle (then AD of the Old Red Lion in Islington) about a project, and we were both enthused by the idea of a full length version. That production went up in September 2016, people seemed to like it, and plans were put in motion to tour it to Ireland. Luckily enough, VAULT would be in full swing by the end of the tour, so bringing it back to London was a no-brainer.
Is this an Irish play?
It’s by an Irish writer, set in an Irish town, full of gorgeous Irish language and that classic Irish ‘craic’ – would you call that an Irish play?
How topical is the subject matter? Could this play be done twenty years ago, and will it be fresh twenty years from now?
The play is very contemporary, I’d say – the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Ireland is a really important plot point. Any future productions would probably need to be set around 2016, or be translated/updated slightly, but I think as long as rural communities experience poverty, and sexual identity is more accessible to those with disposable incomes, then I think the themes of the play will stay relevant.
Is it easier or more difficult to stage a play with only one set?
I think it’s more of a challenge to a designer than to a director. They have to find a design that both reads at every moment of the play, and provides opportunities for different stage pictures. For an actor it’s also challenging to maintain top presence in a play with one constant location and timescale – there’s nowhere to hide!
…and to direct a two-hander?
It certainly saves time on character biographies.
Tell us about your actors.
Josh (Williams) and Alan (McMahon) are terrific – the play requires them to reach the limits of their emotional range, all while consistently maintaining full presence and sharp timing for over an hour! On the tour they’ve also had to pivot between performing in venues of different sizes and configurations. They’re no slouches though – Alan played Hamlet straight out of drama school, and Josh has worked at the Royal Court and the Donmar.
What do you want the audience to take away?
A script if we’re selling one.
(photo credits: Keith Dixon)
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