5 Good Reasons To See Pumpgirl

1. Pumpgirl has a stellar cast.


Samantha Heaney played the title role in the Lyric Theatre production directed by Andrew Flynn in 2008. She also played the title role in the 2009 movie version, directed by Carol Moore, with screenplay by Abbie Spallen. Not only is she an amazing actor but she is also a native of Armagh where Pumpgirl is set.  And – believe it or believe it not – she’s also a stunt woman!

Patrick Ryan rose through the theatrical Garda ranks with Decadent Theatre, playing Tom Hanlon in A Skull in Connemara before landing his regular role of Sergeant Paudge Brennan in TV3’s Redrock

Seona Tully (Sinead) is well known for her role as Eimear O’Connor in TG4’s Ros na Rún.  She’s also a Decadent regular, having worked with us on Doubt by John Patrick Shanley, Crestfall by Mark O’Rowe and Country Music by Simon Stephens.


2. Pumpgirl is theatre in the raw


Pumpgirl is a fiercely observed, unflinching drama that explores the dangerously intertwined lives of ordinary people trying to escape their humdrum existence in a rural Irish town. At the local garage, the tomboyish pump girl loses herself in girlish daydreams about stock car driver Hammy, who occasionally drops in for fuel and a fumble. Her work is haunted by the history and geography of her native land, a borderland of bogs, caves, hills, and marshes, a place where the past is never really dead. She has described her work as “uncomfortable theatre” but while her plays are undeniably dark, there are flashes of beauty, humour and tenderness in their depiction of life on the margins.

3. Pumpgirl is set in the sometimes overlooked beauty of South Armagh.


4. Critics have loved it wherever it has been performed.


‘Abbie Spallen comes out all guns blazing, with writing so sparky and intricately observed, it seems as if it might spontaneously combust.’ 

The Guardian

‘A fiercely observed, unflinching play, emphasising the staggering force of good storytelling.’ 

The New York Times

“Abbie Spallen’s imaginative daring matches her political courage. There’s a fieriness to her work that I really admire – it’s angry and tough and anarchic. But she’s also deeply serious and has a sense that drama ought to matter in the political world.”

Fintan O’Toole, The Irish Times



5. Pumpgirl is written by the amazing Abbie Spallen


Abbie Spallen is a multi-award-winning writer, actor and film producer. Her writing credits include the Stewart Parker Award, The Tony Doyle Award, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the Clare McIntyre Bursary from The Royal Court, the Peggy Ramsay Award, the Dublin City Council Bursary for Literature and the HALMA Foundation Award for excellence in the European Arts.

Her plays include: POENA 5×1 (2016, Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe); LALLY THE SCUT (2015, Tinderbox Theatre Company / The Mac); ABEYANCE (Druid Debut, Druid Theatre Co); PUMPGIRL (Bush/Traverse/Manhattan Theatre Club) which won the 2007 Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the Stewart Parker award and was nominated for the Irish Times Best New Play; STRANDLINE (Fishamble) which was shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award and nominated for the Meyer Whitworth Award; and BOGWOG (NPC, O’Neill Centre Connecticut). Her short plays include THIRTEEN (Women in Power and Politics,Tricycle Theatre), SHAVING THE PICKLE (59E59 NYC) and RUBBERFOOT (Pentabus).

Her work is published by Faber and Faber and has been translated into many languages and produced across Europe and the USA. She has completed one attachment to the Royal National Theatre and two to The Royal Court. In 2014 she was writer in residence in the Lyric Theatre Belfast.

Her work for radio includes RAPTURE FREQUENCY (The Wire R3) LIVE FROM THE PALACE (R4) and the forthcoming SNAKE OIL (R4). Film and Television includes PUMPGIRL (PG Films/NI Screen) SEACHT (Stirling Productions) and COLLUSION (Sharp Focus for Calipo).

In 2014 Abbie was awarded the Major Individual Artist Award by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. In 2016 she was awarded the Windham Campbell Prize for Literature. Judged anonymously, the Windham Campbell Prize has no submission process, public longlist or shortlist, and so writers are unaware that they are in the running. The award citation said: “Abbie Spallen’s plays confront audiences with all the awkward questions, reminding us with thrilling proof that theatre can still be urgently necessary.” 

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