[Dr. Chris Oakley's Home Page] [Greek mythology on banned substances]
Probably from the Irish Times, December 1993.
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!
The Ma: A swan. Jaysus Leda luv, yer in a bad way. I’ll get
Leda: Fekk the towels, ma—I’m serious! It wazza swan!
The Ma: A swan?
(The Ma moves threateningly towards Leda)
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
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.