As part of the Cathedral Quarter Festival, this new two part play by Jane Coyle sat perfectly amidst the hubbub of Belfast’s Hill Street. Sunday afternoon and the world and his wife were milling around so it was a pleasure to move into the Dark Horse Bar and take a seat – a red plush seat surrounded by the wood walls and tiled floor. To one side sat a lone girl sipping a cup of coffee – a pretty girl in an oversized coat and red trainers. There’s a hush and she begins to speak. She’s giving a running commentary – she sees three men under the cherry tree, a woman with her babies in a doorway, Mr. Shapiro fussing in his fashion shop window. She conjures up visions we can all see such is the writing of Jane Coyle, little details bring the girls musing to life. She’s a lost soul, appears to have no one to cling onto. When the elegant lady passes by, the girl comes to life, she admires this woman until a gust of wind whips up her coat to reveal a dirty night dress below and her makeup is caked to her face. Another illusion shattered.
Eventually the spotlight swings to the bar where a woman sits. She turns round to address her audience. A well preserved but faded woman, bright red lipstick, hair piled on top of her head, her stage name is Estelle but she’s really Winnie from Belfast. We hear of her colourful bohemian life in Paris, moving to Nice still the party girl, having a child and eventually wanting to bring the girl home to live in Belfast but on the way to the station she meets a man and being the impressionable person she is, goes with him and looses sight of her child.
Jane Coyle says she is inspired by the work of Samuel Beckett and certainly her take on the lives of these two women is both insightful and sensitive and she has two actresses who serve her well. Both spoke afterwards about the joy of the writing and the pleasure of their parts.
The atmosphere outside the Dark Horse only added to the authenticity of the piece, it indeed was an afternoon spent in Paris.
‘Me Here, Me’ moves to France next as it has been selected for the Paris Free Fringe and then the full play returns to tour in Northern Ireland in September.
Both Sides – ‘Me Here, Me’ and ‘Before Before’
Premiered in the Dark Horse Bar Belfast, Sunday 7th May 2017
6 September – Old Courthouse, Antrim T: 028 9448 1338
7 September – Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Bellaghy T: 028 7938 7444
8 September – Duncairn Centre, Belfast T: 028 9074 7114
9 September – Down County Museum, Downpatrick T: 028 4461 5218
4 November – John O’Connor Writing School & Literary Arts Festival, Armagh