Irish play gets UK première at Birmingham REP

Published: 25 January 2020
Reporter: Steve Orme

An adaptation of Irish author Louise O'Neill's novel about sexual consent is to have its UK première at Birmingham REP after a sold-out season at Ireland's National Theatre The Abbey.

Produced by Landmark Productions and The Everyman, Cork, Asking For It won the Audience Choice Award at The Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards in 2018.

O'Neill, who wrote the novel on which the play is based, was stunned by the stage adaptation following its Irish première. Writing for the Irish Examiner, she said, “nothing could have prepared me for what I saw on that stage.

“The first act was a whirl of youthful energy and raw sexuality, cut through with an undercurrent of crackling tension. During the party scene, the music felt as if it was pulsating in my veins, my heart racing, and my throat closing up with dread.

“As the huge screen splintered into broken images, with Emma's voice narrating the scene, I desperately wished for a way to save her from her inevitable fate. I could hear someone quietly sobbing. I jolted when I realised it was me.

“I'm really excited that Asking For It is coming to the UK. I think this is going to be a play that’s going to run for many years and be performed in countries all over the world. I'm delighted that Birmingham will be the first one outside Ireland.”

Asking For It shines an “unflinching light on the experience of a young woman whose life is changed forever by a horrific act of violence”. One night in a small town in County Cork, where everyone knows everyone, things spiral out of control and Emma’s reputation is in tatters.

Lauren Coe originated the role of Emma in the première of Asking For It at the Everyman Theatre, Cork in summer 2018 and plays her again in Birmingham.

Meadhbh McHugh adapts the novel in collaboration with Annabelle Comyn who also directs. Set design is by Paul O'Mahony, lighting design by Sinéad Mckenna, music and sound design by Philip Stewart, video design by Jack Phelan, costume design by Niamh Lunny and movement direction by Sue Mythen.

Asking For It runs at Birmingham REP from Wednesday 29 January until Saturday 15 February. Press night will be Monday 3 February.