Lucy's Play

Written: 1986

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, July 4 1986


LUCY Kate Duchene

LUCIUS Ewan Stewart

CELIA Ida Schuster

MARIA Sadie Shimmin

PEDRO Simon Scott

MAX Chris Barnes

MARCUS Alan Barker.

Designed by Bunny Christie
Lighting by George Tarbuck
Directed by Jenny Killick

LUCY was conceived during the rehearsals for Losing Venice.

Dermot Hayes, the designer, had brought in a book of reproductions of Spanish paintings. and it was lying around the Green Room.

There was one extraordinary painting of a young woman with her eyes on a plate. It was St Lucy. I wanted to find out her story.

It turns out she was a beauitful young woman who lived in Syracuse. A young man kept pestering her, and she didn't like him much. She wanted to understand the world and the meaning of her life and he kept distracting her.

One day she asked him in some exasperation why he loved her so much.

"I love your eyes" he said.

"You like my eyes?" she said. "Well then you can have them".

And in her rage she tore out her eyes and gave them to him.

Looking back on it, it seems an odd subject to choose for a play. But when the Traverse wanted to commission another, I chose it.

Kate Duchene had played the Duchess and the Sister in Losing Venice and I wanted to write a part for her. And it was LUCY.

It was the first time I set out to make a woman the centre of one of my plays, and that was an important impulse that came to mean a huge amount for me.

When I wrote Losing Venice I really had no conscious idea of what I was doing. I wrote by instinct, as if in the dark.

This time I felt I was beginning to know.

I wrote it in Pittenweem, in a house by the sea. I remember my father dying in the middle of act one; and the accident in Chernobyl in act two.

I thought I was creating a comic and profound fable about the collapse of our world and the fearful consequences of the Cold War; and when I had finished with it I was very proud.

I was also very naive, and I couldn't understand why the same critics who had been so supportive of Losing Venice were now so rude about LUCY. They called her "fanciful" and "slackly constructed" and another adjective that wounded me so much at the time I can't even remember what it was. But I thought this was a better play.

It's had a fitful life afterwards. A production in Aspen, I think, and I remember one I saw in Long Beach. But since then, nothing.

And that was another reason I loved it: it opened on my daughter's birthday.