Liam Murray writes for Culture about his new play Brothers, which won second place in this year's PJ O'Connor Awards, and airs this Sunday evening (July 22) at 8pm on RTÉ Radio 1.
Although this is only the second time I’ve entered, I’ve enjoyed listening to the PJ O’Connor Award winners down through the years. Needless to say, I was absolutely delighted to hear from Aidan Mathews telling me I had been shortlisted and ultimately that I was first runner-up. It was a lovely surprise.
A couple of years ago I read Eugene O’Brien’s brilliant play Eden and was blown away by how powerful a well-written first-person narrative could be. I knew immediately that I wanted to write a two-hander, monologue piece. There’s something uniquely compelling and personal about a character speaking directly to a listener. So, strangely enough, the structure for Brothers came before the characters or the plot.
There’s something uniquely compelling and personal about a character speaking directly to a listener.
I don’t have a brother. But if I did, I wouldn’t want it to be either of these two. Gerry and Dennis are both flawed. One is a happy-go-lucky layabout, the other a troubled soul trying to process a personal tragedy. They’re not based on anyone, they’re more an amalgamation of many people. I put them under the same roof, added a couple of secondary characters and let them tell their story. It turned out a lot darker than I expected and several of the twists came as a surprise.
My background is in journalism. I’ve worked for various publications over the years with Entertainment.ie being the most recent. While I do enjoy writing news, there’s a freedom that comes with writing fiction. It allows your mind to wander. I’ve tried my hand at a YA novel, a movie script, stage plays and some truly horrendous short stories that I hope, for the sake of humanity, will never see the light of day. This is my first professional production.
I don’t have a brother. But if I did, I wouldn’t want it to be either of these two.
In May I was delighted to join the Fair City writing team. I’ve just finished my first episode which will air in October. The last couple of months have been a much-needed crash course in the art of capturing a character’s voice, driving a story forward and making every syllable count. It’s been a pleasure to write scenes for such rich, complex characters like Paul Brennan and Carol Foley as they navigate their way through the various scandals rocking Carrigstown. I’ve a new-found respect for soap writers everywhere. It’s much tougher than you think!
There’s a freedom that comes with writing fiction. It allows your mind to wander.
Finally, I’d like to thank the entire Drama on One team, especially dramaturg Jesper Bergmann and director Kevin Brew. They gently twisted my arm into restructuring a few scenes and including some necessary dialogue. Their guidance and constructive notes hugely improved the final piece. And, of course, thanks to the amazing actors, Paul Ronan and Stephen Jones, for bringing the whole thing to life.
Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy it. On to the next one.
Brothers, RTÉ Radio 1, Sunday July 22 at 8pm - listen to more for the Drama On One archives here.