[Dr. Chris Oakley's Home Page] [Greek mythology on banned substances]

Leda an' de swan

Probably from the Irish Times, December 1993.

Times Square by Brendan Glacken

Hit and Myth at the Theatre Festival

One of the great unpublicised scandals of this year’s Dublin Theatre Festival has been the abbey’s out-of-hand rejection of a ground-breaking new work by young Ballydehob-based playwright Laetitia van der Hoostenhaus. Leda an’ de Swan is her deeply moving and delightfully vernacular transposition of the ancient Greek myth into a modern Irish setting, and the scene below, which Laetitia has kindly allowed me to transcribe, will give some flavour of what Dublin audiences missed.

The scene: inner-city Dublin flat. Enter 14-year-old Leda, dripping wet, to be greeted by her mother.

The Ma: So dere y’are. Where wurr ye for de last tree hours?
Leda: Juss down be de river, Ma.
The Ma: Well yer dinner’s cold—ah Jaysus, looka de state-a-ye! Whah happened?
Leda: Nuttin, Ma.
The Ma: Come on, ouh widdit. Mudderagod, yer soakin!

Leda breaks down crying.

Leda: I have sumpin to tell ye, Ma—I got tooken advantage of!
The Ma: Whah?
Leda: Down be the river, Ma.
The Ma: Never mind where. The ting is, who? Who wazza?

Leda bawls again.

Leda: It wazza swan, ma!

Long pause.

The Ma: A swan. Jaysus Leda luv, yer in a bad way. I’ll get some towels.
Leda: Fekk the towels, ma—I’m serious! It wazza swan!
The Ma: A swan?

(The Ma moves threateningly towards Leda)

            Lissen Leda, don’t wind me up. I’m not in de humour.
Leda: I’m telling ye de trute! I wudden lie abou sumpin like dis!
The Ma: A swan. Ye were tooken advantage of be a —
Leda: (losing patience) Yea, yea, a swan, a great big shaggin swan! He juss jumped me, whah could I do?
The Ma: (lights fag nervously) Ah jaysus, wait’ll yer da hears dis news.
Leda: Ah ma—don’t tellim—he’ll murder me!
The Ma: Here he comes now, ye can tellim yerself.

Enter the Da, walking just a bit erratically.

The Da: How’re yiz? Juss in time for de dinner, am I—nice timin’ wha?
The Ma: Leda has sumpin to tell ye, Anto.
Leda: Ah Ma!
The Da: Whah izza—Jaysus, were ye swimming, Leda? Could ye not wait t’get yer togs on or wha?

The Da falls about in a fit of laughing, which abruptly changes to coughing. He sits down heavily.

The Ma: We ye shut up Anto, ye stewpid eejah. Ye won’t be laffin when ye hear the news.
The Da: So tellus? Leda, what’s up?
Leda: Me, da. I’m up de pole. Sorry Da.
The Da: Oh. Righ. So whose izza?
Leda: One o’ dem swans down be de river, Da.
The Da: (thoughtfully) Is dat righ? Y’know, I always said some o’ dem lads had a gamey eye.
The Ma: Anto! Did ye not hear what de young wan’s after telling ye? Se got tooken advantage of be a fekkin swan!
The Da: Ma, will ye shut up a minnit. Listen, Leda: ye needn’t worry, I’m not going to hit ye. Juss tell me de wan thing.
Leda: Wha, da?
The Da: Tell me the trute now: did ye lead him on?
Leda: Ah Da!
The Da: Awrigh, awrigh! Dat’s fine. Dese tings happen, ye know. It’s only nattchurel.
The Ma: Nattchurel! Anto! A great big bleedin’ swan—
The Da: Don’t worry yersef now, Leda. An annuder ting (The Da scratches his ear thoughtfully) I remember hearing dat swans does make very good fadders—

Leda starts bawling again.

The Ma: Ah fer jaysus sake Anto—what I wanta know is, whattye goin to do abourra? Can we sue the Corpo or whah?
The Da: Do? I’m goin down to de Anchor for a few scoops, dat’s what I’m doin fe starters. Jaysus, it’s not every day a fella hears he’s goin to be a granda, wha?
The Ma: No—not a granda of bleedin’ cygginets anyway, ye fekkin eejah!

Exit the Da. Door slams. Curtain falls.