Delight for Kilkenny playwright John Morton as ‘Denouement’ play is published

Gareth Nicholls (Director), Marie Jones, Ian McElhinney and John Morton at the Lyric Theatre

For those in the world of theatre, the announcement that a new play has been published always creates a bit of a theatrical stir. Actors, producers, directors and technical crew are thinking straight away of a potential job. Make no mistake, jobs in that field are not all that plentiful. So, potential dollar signs are flashing.

When the play is written by a Kilkenny man, the enthusiasm levels rises a notch or two.

Enter Stephen Street resident John Morton.

Readers of The Kilkenny Observer will be aware that last year we ran a story, when Morton, was announced as the winner of the Edgar Allan Poe award with his television series ‘Dead Still’ for best television programme.

Morton who is well known in Kilkenny as an actor and writer has recently had his play ‘Denouement’ published by Concord Theatricals UK.

This recent offering from John has had a long history.

It was first performed as a short play performed in The Watergate Theatre in September 2010, produced by ‘What’s On Tom’.

That version starred Des Manahan and Geraldine Plunkett and was directed by Jeffrey Gormly.

It was also produced as an audio piece at The Lyric Theatre in 2020.

The Traverse Theatre and Lyric Theatre Belfast were delighted to present a new co-production, following their successful collaboration in 2019 with an audience favourite, Crocodile Fever.

Denouement by John Morton, commissioned by the Lyric Theatre, was presented in a work-in-progress audio recording and featured performances from acclaimed actors of stage and screen – and real life couple – Ian McElhinney (the inimitable Grandad Joe in Derry Girls, Game of Thrones) and Marie Jones (In the Name of the Father) in the lead roles of Liam and Edel.

End of the world is nigh

Set in an apocalyptic Ireland in 2048, Denouement follows a couple in their 60s who are facing the literal end of the world.

They’ve been up all night trying to get their chaotic affairs into some kind of order, surrounded by dozens of empties from last night’s raging party.

They feel rough, they’re on edge, and they’re blasting music to drown out the cataclysmic noise outside as cities start to disappear and the world’s animals go haywire.

Liam is hammering furiously at his typewriter, finishing the memoirs that no-one will ever read.

Edel is wrangling with her laptop, desperately trying to say a final goodbye to their beloved kids.

And they’re both reflecting on past regrets – and trying to put them right in sometimes bloody, messy, outrageous ways.

As tempers fray, family secrets are outed and their behaviour becomes ever more questionable, Liam and Edel try to work out what really matters as they career towards a bickering end – while the world literally falls apart around them.

Directed by the Traverse’s Co-Artistic Director Gareth Nicholls, Denouement also featured performances from Patrick McBrearty, Nicky Harley and Leah McGregor.

Sound design and composition is by MJ McCarthy.

Nominated for new writing award

The play has already been shortlisted for the 2020 Popcorn Award for new writing, along with seven other plays (shortlisted from 133 eligible plays) that were due to premiere at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe festival. This new award recognises the best writing which seeks to question and address current affairs, societal trends and contributes positively to public debate.

Good track record

John is an actor, writer and filmmaker. He has written and directed a number of short films as well as the television series Dead Still on RTÉ. For the stage he has written the plays Taboo, War of Attrition, Scratcher, Smitten and Heart Shaped Vinyl and co-wrote the historical plays The Hellfire Squad and The Roaring Banshees with Peter McGann. He also wrote the adaptation of Thomas Kilroy’s novel The Big Chapel for Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2019. He is a founding member of Devious Theatre in Kilkenny.

On a home visit

On a recent visit home to his native Kilkenny, John took time out to chat with the Kilkenny Observer.

“Yes, I have to be honest, it is a bit of a thrill. It’s not every day you have one of your plays published, so the experience is a very enjoyable one”.

John went on to say that quite a lot of people have been involved on the journey since the idea of the play was first mooted, and a fair bit of team work is essential.

“The process from pen to stage is a slow one”, explained John, “but that’s just the way it is. The secret I guess is to enjoy it as best you can. This is the first script I have had published, so I suppose you could say that it is pretty cool”, said John.


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