In Sebastian Barry’s play, written over 15 years ago but only now receiving its UK premiere, we begin in the English seaside town of Weston-super-Mare. Kiss-me-quick hats and fish and chips in newspaper are nowhere to be seen. Instead there are windswept beach walkways and women in elegant long dresses with parasols. Behind this attractive holiday resort is Lizzie Finn and the music halls.
Opening in set designer Joe Vanek's magnificently achieved recreation of a music hall in Weston-super-Mare in the 1890s, Lizzie Finn is a celebrated dancer, a self-made Kerry woman of lowly origins. Meeting him first on the seafront and subsequently assaulted by the good intentions of his leg-covering overcoat on the music hall stage, Lizzie, a woman of repressed national identity and immense strength of character, allows herself to be charmed by the awkward pleasantries of Robert Gibson, a soldier-come- lately from the war in South Africa. Romance flourishes and Gibson, himself from landed stock in Kerry, takes her away from all that and back to his crumbling family estate. Lizzie's money props up the debt-ridden domain, but her background and Robert's damnation of the ethics of war are ultimately too much for the social fabric of the area's elite to bear.
Lizzie Finn is an English illustrator and art director. Much of her design output has a high public profile, through work with brands such as Silas, , and ; sleeve artwork for bands including and ; and magazine work for and .