Shorts double up

TWO short plays are about to open at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

The Yalta Game and Elegy For a Lady will be performed at lunchtimes, afternoons and in the evening, separately and as a double bill.

In the first play, an experienced seducer introduces a married but restless woman to the Yalta game.

The two holidaymakers create outrageous and unlikely life stories for fellow tourists and passers-by, falling into a holiday romance lived at the highest level of fantasy.

In their desire to make life more interesting, they become lost in their self-deception until they can’t tell where reality ends and the imaginary begins.

It has been adapted from Chekhov’s short story, The Lady With the Lapdog, by Irish playwright Brian Friel, best known for his plays Philadelphia, Here I Come, Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa.

A masterclass in spinning tall tales, The Yalta Game premiered at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in 2001, starring Ciarán Hinds and Kelly Reilly.

Elegy For a Lady is one half of Two-Way Mirror by Arthur Miller – two plays which question truth and fiction, reality and illusion.

A man searches a boutique for a gift for his younger, terminally-ill mistress. As the proprietor helps him, she begins to assume the mistress’s persona and they experience a brief, poignant moment of close- ness.

Miller said: “It isn’t always clear exactly where one stands in psychic space when grief passes up through the body into the mind. To be at once the observer and observed is a split awareness that most people know; but what of the grieved-for stranger, the other who is ‘not-me’? Doesn’t it sometimes seem as though he or she is not merely outside oneself but also within and seeing outward through one’s eyes at the same time that he or she is being seen?”

The Yalta Game opens on 17 June and Elegy For a Lady on 22 June.

They then run in repertory during the SJT’s summer season.

The cast of two – John Elkington and Jennifer Rhodes – is being directed by Chris Monks.