Evan McMillan’s The Lovers’ Guide to Losing Your Mind is directed by Ellen Fitzgerald. It is a dark comic love story which explores themes of love, hate, and the memories of the protagonists. The plot is about Andy (Paul MacCann) and Annie (Dervla Ryan), two Dubliners who are drawn together by their friends, or maybe by some pseudo-metaphysical force. It is a typical romantic plot about two people who casually go out for a couple of months, then Andy goes away to Britain and leaves Annie.
Yet, something new changed the course of the production: the playwright and director enter the stage; they constantly interrupt the performance. The director and playwright also have arguments in front of the audience and performers, which breaks the flow of the plot and provides a comic relief to the public. It breaks the performance’s third wall: the characters become themselves, the illusion of a constructed plot/character vanishes away. As the performance goes on, we learn that McMillan wrote the plot based on his own relationship. Thus, the characters are a mimetic representation of themselves— there is also an argument on why Ellen casted these particular actors. It is a play within a play, when the performance finishes the spectators get a new programme informing that the playwright is Jason Coburn and the director is Alex McKenzie.
The actor-audience relationship is close, with the playwright seated as a member of the audience, then breaking the fourth wall by going on stage. The whole idea of the performance is quite intriguing. The idea is maybe unique, however there was a lack of organization in general. The performance started late, the backstage crew seemed to be lost/confused and ‘talking’ to each other when changing the scenery, even one of the actors opened the upper-stage curtain before she was supposed to go on stage. Even though there were some complications, the performed piece delivers inventive directions, as stated by Firedoor Theatre, “innovative theatre group in Dublin, with a focus on new and original work.” This innovation takes a clichéd love story and makes it different with the aid of new structure and direction.
The Lovers’ Guide to Losing Your Mind is at the Firedoor Theatre, written by Evan McMillan and directed by Ellen Fitzgerald.