Eileen O’Brien is a passive-aggressive, Tupperware-obsessed West Cork matron and Daniel O’Donnell fan.
She is also the focus of a hugely popular string of cabaret comedies built around her turbulent relationship with her best friend and distant relative Marilyn, an elegant but needy blow-in from England who drinks too much.
The ‘Eileen and Marilyn’ comedies, which have played onstage throughout Co Cork for several years, are the result of a creative collaboration between Karen Minihan from Schull, a theatre director and performer who plays Eileen, and her stage partner, Terri Leiber, who plays Marilyn.
In all, six comedies have been performed all over Cork and in Dublin since 2010, built around the duo’s complex relationship and covering everything from family Christmases to a Greek holiday and a trip to New York.
“People loved the plays — they really enjoyed them and kept talking about how they were sick from laughing. We got a fantastic response to every single one of them,” said Karen.
One of those who loved the concept was London-based film director and former actress Helen Selka, who, after seeing a performance in Schull in 2014, decided to turn it into a film.
“Helen really liked it. The Eileen Monologue was our 2014 production and Helen decided she wanted to make a film of it,” said Karen.
Written by Ms Minihan, Eileen will have its premiere this Thursday at the Fastnet Film festival in the Mizen peninsula village.
It will also be screened at the Organic Arts Festival on June 19 in Clonakilty, while Karen will perform the monologue in Cork’s CAT club from June 29-July 2. The film’s creators have also applied to have the film screened at the Galway and Cork Film festivals.
However, Eileen covers more serious ground than some of the stage plays, touching on infertility and marriage breakdown, says Karen.
View the trailer of ‘Eileen’ at https://vimeo.com/163389756.