Thursday, March 24, 2011
"Dear Frankie" & the wonder of agony aunts
"It may not be your problem today, but it could be someday"
Given how irresistible I find the "agony aunt" page of my favourite Sunday newspaper and the comfort I gain from knowing others have worries besides me, the Five Lamps Theatre Company production of "Dear Frankie" was one not to be missed.
Frankie Byrne was an iconic agony aunt who broadcast to a massive listenership on Irish radio from 1963 to 1985. Those of us of a certain age will remember her drawling, lived in voice, each lunchtime as she read and answered the personal problems of the nation. Practical advice was doled out on problems that ranged from interfering mothers-in-law to reluctant-to-commit boyfriends. Advice was consistently followed by a Frank Sinatra song.
What made Frankie's personal story stand out was the extent to which her personal life was filled with as many problems as she spent her days solving for others. A long running and ultimately heartbreaking affair with a high profile married man and battles with alcoholism dogged her life and the production deftly slipped in and out between the two sides of Frankie, allowing us to hear her dole out her rounded, streetwise advice while her mind was hijacked with personal demons.
Well worth a look, especially for its bird's eye view on the alternate side of an agony aunt and to highlight how the experience gained from living life to the full was harnessed through the medium of her daily radio programme to give comfort and sensible, practical advice to others.