Writing ‘The House-Husband’

It’s almost eleven years since I wrote ‘The House-Husband’, so memories of the writing process involved are a bit hazy. I do remember that it was a troublesome play to write as it was only my second-ever three-act play.
Originally Geraldine, I think, was an estate agent and I wrote a whole first act to this effect, which I then had to largely scrap, because it wasn’t working out. I then made her a bank official. Paschal was always a school-teacher. I’d had to give up my own teaching job because of stress – walked out one day in 1985 and never went back. I still have the legacy of severe migraines from those days, but that’s another story. Paschal, in essence, was me. The difference was – the Paschal character was married, I wasn’t.
Paschal was easily led, so I gave him a dominant friend – Richie Collins – whose advice he wasn’t able to resist, but which always led him into more trouble. And, of course, Geraldine hated Richie. Then I gave Geraldine a smarmy work colleague, Trevor Timmons (alliteration again) who had a thing for her and was everything Paschal wasn’t.
The house-warming was designed to bring in Geraldine’s parents – Harry and Tess (later featured in ‘Mother Knows Best’) – and provide Paschal with a means of proving himself to Geraldine. One of my favourite scenes is where Tess and Geraldine discuss how snooty Norma Harrington (never seen) found a hair in her salmon mousse.
Maggie McHugh, Paschal’s mother, is one of those down-to-earth women I love having in my plays and is the complete opposite to the upmarket Tess. Aunt Minnie (Cooper) is another lively character. I named her after the car and it shows I was already having fun with character names.
I decided to set the final scene at the Agricultural Show as I’d been to numerous shows in previous years. Since the shows’ announcers have to keep talking for hours, some of them come out with the smallest of small talk. My ‘announcer’ is talking about ‘rain between the showers’ at one point. And there’s inevitably a lost child looking for its mammy at these shows – as there is at the show in ‘The House-Husband’. I was at a show once where a bull almost got loose – in my play, he succeeded.
The play was first staged in Tyrrellspass in April 2001 with Tommy Glennon playing Paschal and Sandra Gonoud playing Geraldine. The director was Eamonn Tormey..

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