By Alexandra Suttie
Crestfall – the first play in Inferno: A Double bill – is written by one of Ireland’s most electrifying playwrights, Mark O’Rowe.
This dark, gritty tale is set in a merciless place where violence is rife and love is scarce. The three women we follow are desperate, tortured and vengeful. Hope is their only fuel and they slave to hold on to it.
What type of person can conjure up a world so terrible, but do it using such stunning language? Read on for 7 - sometimes bizarre - facts about Mark O’Rowe, and take a journey into the mind of this wicked wordsmith.
1. O’Rowe didn’t start writing until he was 24. He had no training, no skills. In his words: “had nothing”. He says he just wanted “something to do” and we’re glad he took up writing rather than scrapbooking. Although, he could probably craft some pretty gruesome family memorabilia.
2. Before he began his craft, O’Rowe spent much of his teenage years watching and re-watching violent, bloody films. He claims this is where a lot of the violence in his work stems from. No kidding.
3. He hates writing description. He believes the second a character says a line, you have everything you need to know about them. O’Rowe works mostly in monologues – in Crestfall, there are 3 back to back.
4. When Crestfall played at The Abbey Theatre in Dublin there were multiple walkouts during a scene where a prostitute fellates a dog. The production even spawned the newspaper headline “Bestiality at the gate”. O’Rowe says this is the headline he’s most proud of.
5. If O’Rowe sits down to weave his magic on a new play, with no idea what to do for plot or character, the first thing that pops into his mind is a sex scene. Whatever works, Mark.
6. Once, O’Rowe actually asked his agent to take him off a TV project. He hated the style, thought there were too many cliff hangers and he couldn’t develop the mentality of a TV writer. He says it’s harder to find your voice when you’re writing for the screen. Well, it’d be hard to slip his signature rhyming monologues into a 40 minute drama but…
7. He must have some screenwriting skill, because in 2003 O’Rowe wrote the film Intermission starring Collin Farrell which went on to become the most successful independent Irish film in history. He may not have found his voice on the screen, but he definitely found something.
This weird and wonderful playwright is doing something right. Along with a standout reputation for shocking and horrifying, O’Rowe won Best Script for Intermission at the IFTA Awards in 2003 and also won Best Screenplay at the Dinard British Film Festival in 2008 for Boy A. He’s been nominated twice for a BAFTA Award, nominated for another IFTA, a Banff Rockie Award and a British Independent Film Award.
Experience the thrill for yourself by booking tickets to see Inferno – A Double Bill, featuring O’Rowe’s controversial play Crestfall. Book before 24 December and take $12 off your ticket price! This early bird Christmas offer ends in 9 days so book now to see Inferno for only $30.