Niamh Campbell, writer of this weekend's RTÉ Drama On One production, The Bachelor, writes for Culture about her monologue piece, which stars veteran actor Barry McGovern as 'a middle-aged bourgeois bohemian who has decided to do up an out-of-town cottage in Ireland and return, perhaps, to nature' - listen to The Bachelor above.
When RTÉ Drama On One got in touch to say Barry McGovern would like me to write a short monologue for radio I was honoured, and intimidated, since my writing output is ninety percent young-woman-being-romantically-underwhelmed.
With my novel This Happy coming out in June right before I won the Sunday Times Competition for 'Love Many', I have more or less arrived on the scene as a writer of the female, erotically liberated, and perennially underwhelmed.
My first try-outs were written in the voices of younger men, but they didn’t convince. Barry and I had socially distanced coffee in the Phoenix Park. I hit, then, on the idea of writing a spin-off of the love interest in This Happy – a middle-aged bourgeois bohemian who has decided to do up an out-of-town cottage in Ireland and return, perhaps, to nature: the bachelor.
That same week, I saw Instagram photos of an unfinished modernist property somewhere uncharted in the midlands. It was mutedly brutalist, with a stagnant pond, but, memorably, every doorway and fireplace installed in it was shaped – obviously, and intentionally – like a vagina. It looked like somewhere a sex cult might rent out for primal screaming seminars. I wondered if my bachelor might try to buy it instead of a cottage, or at least have a tour.
Most people I pitched this to looked at me with the kind of horror I didn’t want to inspire; trying to write, it didn’t work – too many words taken up just describing the fireplace. Instead, its spirit of unsexy sexual menace went underground in Bachelor and became the story of the bachelor, his son, and his son’s girlfriend, the implacable Pamela, who stirs the wrong kind of wrong feelings in her ersatz father-in-law. It became what I hope is a kind of dream-narrative.
The Batchelor by Niamh Campbell will air at 8 pm on Drama On One on RTÉ One this Sunday, 27th September 2020. The play will air as part of a double bill with Samuel Beckett's The Old Tune, also performed by Barry McGovern, with Eamon Morrissey - listen more from Drama On One here.