A zippy and zany play, Jezebel makes fun of contemporary sexual mores and the bizarre information society we now live in. It won writer Mark Cantan the coveted Stewart Parker Prize last year. The Rough Magic production is touring nationwide before travelling to Glasgow and Paris.
“The Paris date is a lovely treat,” says Dublin actor Valerie O’Connor, who reprises her role as Jezebel. “Of course, now all my family are saying, ‘oh, maybe we’ll come to Paris to see you.’ I’m like ‘Are you going to Paris just to see Paris?’. Because the show is in Dublin if you want to go see it there.”
Jezebel tells the story of a young professional couple (Peter Daly and Margaret McAuliffe) who want to ignite their sex life by having a threesome. O’Connor’s kooky misfit artist enters their lives and the consequences are delicious.
“Jezebel is so open with people,” says O’Connor. “She has huge faith in people and in the goodness of people. I suppose I’d be a bit like that. I love meeting new people and I’d chat to anybody. I think as a society we might be losing that. We don’t chat to others on the bus because we’re all in our little worlds on our phones and tablets. We don’t engage with the world around us.
“But Jezebel is so in the present. She meets Robin and Alan who are looking to spice up their relationship. And Jezebel just thinks, ‘Yeah, okay. Why not?’. There’s a lovely innocence to that which is sweet and makes her gas to play.”
In contrast to the kooky and slightly dysfunctional Jezebel, Alan and Robin are more ‘square’. Their heads are spinning with the demands of modern life.
“We’re that generation who are used to having every bit of information in our pocket on our phone,” says O’Connor. “The thing that hits me now is that they both really love each other. There’s so much pressure on couples to be everything at every moment. Their work life has to be amazing. Their social life has to be amazing. Their sex life has to be amazing. And there’s a line in the show that asks, ‘can we just be normal?’. Normal is frowned upon now but I think that in their normality Alan and Robin are actually content. We’re all searching for God knows what, but there’s an absolute joy just in being content with life.”
O’Connor seems contented in her own life and finds a lot in common with her character.
“ Maybe someone else in her situation would think it was a tragedy. But she’s living in a comedy. And that’s how I feel. I think, ‘yeah, I want to be living in a comedy, not a tragedy, no matter what happens’.”
* TOUR DATES: Civic Theatre, Tallaght, Feb 4-6; Backstage Theatre, Longford, Feb 7-8: Half Moon Theatre, Cork, Feb 10-12; Draiocht, Blanchardstown, Feb 14-15; Town Hall, Galway, Feb 17; Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny, Feb 19; Theatre Royal, Waterford, Feb 21-22; Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, Feb 25-26; Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire; Feb 27-Mar 1; The MAC, Belfast, Mar 3-5. www.roughmagic.ie