Michel Tremblay

Plays by Michel Tremblay

The Unmanageable Sisters  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Deirdre Kinahan's play The Unmanageable Sisters is a version of Michel Tremblay’s 1968 Québécoise comedy, Les Belles-Soeurs, translating the action to 1970s Dublin. It was first performed on 1 March 2018 at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.

The play is set in a flat in Ballymun, Dublin, in 1974. The matriarchal Ger Lawless has just won a million Green Shield Stamps, and has invited fifteen friends round to help her fill up her stamp books. As the night passes and the books are filled, the women clash over bitter resentments and deeply entrenched, generational differences over how a woman should live.

The Abbey Theatre production was directed by Graham McLaren with set design by Colin Richmond. It was performed by Karen Ardiff, Clare Barrett, Charlotte Bradley, Catherine Byrne, Rachael Dowling, Tina Kellegher, Lisa Lambe, Sarah Madigan, Clare Monnelly, Máire Ní Ghráinne, Mary O’Driscoll, Marion O’Dwyer (as Ger Lawless), Rynagh O’Grady, Caoimhe O’Malley and Catherine Walsh, with additional voices by Owen Roe. 

Michel Tremblay is a French Canadian novelist and playwright, born in Montreal, Quebec. His first professionally produced play, Les Belles-Sœurs, was written in 1965 and premiered at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert on August 28, 1968. It stirred up controversy by portraying the lives of working-class women and attacking the straight-laced, deeply religious society of mid-20th century Quebec. A version of the play in Scots English, The Guid Sisters, translated by Bill Findlay and Martin Bowman, was premiered at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow, in 1989; and a version set in Ireland, The Unmanageable Sisters by Deirdre Kinahan, premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in 2018.
His other notable works include: À toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou (1970); La grosse femme d'à côté est enceinte (1978); Albertine, en cinq temps (Albertine in Five Times) (1984); Le Vrai Monde? (1987); and Messe solennelle pour une pleine lune d'été (Solemn Mass for a Full Moon in Summer) (1996).