Maeve Binchy once said: “I don't have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks.” This is the key to Maeve’s success  – sentiment without sentimentality. And a belief in the ability of people to change, and become the best they can be. This is not a small thing, in my view; it’s the only thing. Sentiment is all there is. If you are not moved emotionally, what’s the point? In anything?

When we came out of Africa fifty thousand years ago, we came on our own two feet, driven by the ever-growing brain in our heads. And with one goal – to carry the heart to every corner of the earth. That’s the journey we started, and are still on – that’s the way I see it, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

I’ve been a fan of Maeve’s all my life. Her column in The Irish Times was the first writing I encountered that drew inspiration from overheard conversations in buses and cafés. I’ve been eavesdropping since. I was never in doubt as to which of Maeve’s novels to adapt. Once I started reading Minding Frankie, I was hooked. It is unique in so many ways.

For a start, unlike so many of her stories, the main character is a man. But he is a man trying desperately to break free of stereotypes, to try to fill a woman’s shoes, and become the best mother he can be. For me, this is the real story – our ugly duckling society turning into a confident duck.

Maeve is one of those rare writers - like Dickens, Wilde, Shaw, Behan - whose work springs from their larger-than-life personalities. More so than other writers, their unique voices are captured in their work. It is my hope that this production of Minding Frankie once again makes Maeve's voice available to all those who love her, and to those who will come to love her.

I know that fans have, for thirty years or more, looked forward to the next Maeve book. She has been a constant in their lives. The play Minding Frankie  has a big duty to these fiercely loyal fans. I hope we will not let them down.

I wish to acknowledge the generous support of Gordon Snell, without whose encouragement and advice, this adaptation would never have been attempted. A special thanks to Christine Green, Maeve’s agent, who believed in this adaptation from the first draft. I am also indebted to Margaret Dunne from Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre for the creativity and passion she brings to all my projects; and to actor Michael Heavey for helping to bring the main character in this story to life.

It has been a great pleasure working with Producer  Breda Cashe, and an amazing creative team comprising  Peter Sheridan, Steve Blount, and Clare Barrett, ably assisted by Anto Seery. They have given their all to this production.

 

Playwright Edward Albee once said the only taboo in theatre is that ‘you should not be allowed to bore an intelligent, responsive, sober audience’. I hope that we have done Maeve justice, and that you, our intelligent, responsive, sober audience enjoy Minding Frankie as much as we enjoyed making it.

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