'No matter your sexuality or gender, you'll recognise something of yourself and your romantic relationships...' Playwright Collette Cullen introduces her new play When Rachel Met Fiona, coming to Dublin's New Theatre this March.

I was lying on my acupuncturist's couch trying to relax when two characters popped into my head - Rachel and Fiona. As soon as I got home, I wrote what is now scene three of my play When Rachel Met Fiona. Scene four came pretty soon after that. I tested out the two scenes in four different scratch nights in London, seeing four different versions with four different Rachel and Fiona’s. On one of those trips over I was staying in a hotel and noticed a radio alarm clock. This was the spark for scene two. I continued to write various Rachel and Fiona scenes until suddenly I had a complete play.

Then it was selected for The New Theatre’s New Writing Week event in 2020 and I got teamed up with the wonderful director Iseult Golden. I was so excited to be bringing Rachel and Fiona home to Dublin but disappointed when Covid prevented us having an audience for the rehearsed reading. But Anthony Fox, the Artistic Director of The New Theatre, loved the play and fifteen months later we open on March 21st with a full production.

It's also very important to me that it features two lesbian characters who are not coming out, breaking up or struggling with their sexuality.

Anthony has been such a huge supporter of me and the play. He and Iseult have put an incredible all female team together - Lisa Krugel our set and costume designer, Cathy O’Carroll our lighting designer and Eva Walsh our stage manager. Iseult has cast two amazing up-and-coming actors, Emma Dargan-Reid and Eilish McLaughlin, to play Rachel and Fiona. They both attended The Lir together as well as being friends which really helps when you’re casting a couple. The chemistry between them is sizzling.

Eilish McLaughlin and Emma Dargan-Reid in When Rachel Met Fiona

It means so much to me to have When Rachel Met Fiona open in my hometown. It's the story of Rachel and Fiona’s romantic relationship over seven years, a sort of fly-on-the-wall peak into their lives – and who doesn’t love a peak into someone else’s life? Their story is universal as well as an LGBTQ+ one. It’s funny, fast-paced but most of all it’s a very tender love story. I wanted to portray an ongoing relationship rather than the beginning or end of a relationship.

It’s also very important to me that it features two lesbian characters who are not coming out, breaking up or struggling with their sexuality. They just are like they would be if they were a heterosexual couple. A writer friend of mine described the play as ‘an exquisite piece that explores a relationship over time with complexity, honesty and humour. At its core is a love story that features a lesbian couple who are neither idealised nor criticised but are rather shown in their many colours’ and to be honest I can’t put it better than that.

Come along and see for yourself. No matter your sexuality or gender you’ll recognise something of yourself and your romantic relationships in When Rachel Met Fiona and hopefully fall in love with them just like me.

When Rachel Met Fiona is at the New Theatre, Dublin from March 21 - find out more here.