Enda Walsh's The New Electric Ballroom is a dark fable of the emotionally stultifying effects of small-town life. Written as a companion piece to Walsh's play, The Walworth Farce (2006), it was first performed by Druid Theatre Company at the Galway Arts Festival on 14 July 2008 and later at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.
The play is set in a living room/kitchen in a house in a remote fishing village, where three sisters – Breda, Clara and the youngest, Ada – spend their days obsessively reminiscing about their halcyon days at the New Electric Ballroom. They seem trapped by darker memories of something resembling romance, until Patsy, a local fishmonger, offers the chance of escape.
In his Foreword to Enda Walsh Plays: Two (Nick Hern Books, 2014), Walsh writes: 'as I was writing [The Walworth Farce] I had already decided to write a companion piece called The New Electric Ballroom. Both plays I think of as very Irish – plays about a shared family story where a person visiting will somehow force the truth out of that uncertain history. The New Electric Ballroom was quieter – more elegiac – but again it became about the pressures of the environment on these isolated characters.'
The Druid Theatre Company production was directed by Enda Walsh and designed by Sabine Dargent. It was performed by Rosaleen Linehan, Val Lilley, Catherine Walsh and Mikel Murfi. The production went on to win a Fringe First Award at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe and was revived on tour in 2009.