Eleanor Perrin previews Riordan Deegan’s Original Play: A Reason to Carry On, part of Essex’s LGBT History Month
Next week, the Lakeside Theatre welcomes to its stage the homegrown production A Reason To Carry On, written by Riordan Deegan and co-directed by himself and fellow student Gemma Bees. The plot follows two teenage boys: Max and Lachie. Though the victim of a vicious campaign of hate and abuse, Max (Jack Musk) has gradually come to terms with the discovery of his sexuality and learnt to accept it. Lachie (Callum Marshall) is part of the group of bullies that target Max, but beneath his tough exterior masks his own complex battles. When Lachie starts to develop feelings for Max, he too is forced to address his own sexuality. A Reason To Carry On is a coming of age story with a sincere, valuable twist.
I spoke exclusively with the play’s writer and co-director Riordan Deegan, and asked what motivated him to write this piece of theatre for the Lakeside Studio. He explained: ‘‘I first explored script-writing as part of the Tragedy module I took during my second year. I soon came to realise that it was something I really enjoyed doing and wanted to explore outside of my studies. With regard to the idea itself, really, it presented itself to me quite naturally. I’ve always cared for LGBT issues even before coming to university. As a writer, the creation of A Reason To Carry On was a wholly organic process.’’
“The creation of A Reason to Carry On was a wholly organic process.”
I asked Riordan about what it is like working with director and friend Gemma. He told me “When it came to choosing a lead director, asking Gemma was not a difficult choice. I trust her vision with my writing and to me that’s paramount. When it comes to the rehearsals, she very much leads and I take more of a backseat. However, as the writer I’m able to offer my opinion and valuable advice by way of feedback to the cast. Gemma and I have a great working dynamic: we talk about everything and bounce off each other’s ideas. We were worried about clashing, but I can honestly say this hasn’t happened, not once!’’
I asked Riordan why he thought people should come and see the play next week. His response: ‘‘A Reason To Carry On adds a voice to an important and highly relevant issue, arguably more relevant now than ever before. There’s still a long way to go in society’s recognition and acceptance of the LGBT cry for equality, but we’re getting there. As long as it remains an issue it needs to be talked about, and this play adds a voice to that powerful cry.’’
“There’s still a long way to go in society’s recognition and acceptance of the LGBT cry for equality, but we’re getting there.”
I rounded off the interview by asking Riordan what sort of emotional experience we should prepare ourselves for. He simply responded ‘‘The play is real, but hopeful. There’s certainly a glimmer of hope.’’
A Reason To Carry On is playing at the Lakeside Theatre Studio through 13-14 February, and tickets can be purchased directly from the Box Office.