‘Cocktail Conversation’ in Ireland

If the title of this post brings to mind images of intimate, candlelit gatherings of Dublin’s polite society making small talk while sipping on Negronis and Pink Ladies, allow me to clarify.
‘Cocktail Conversation’ is a one-act play I wrote some years ago now – in 2002 to be precise – but which is sadly just as relevant today as it was back then. It was written in response to a dispiriting news article I’d read which attributed a new rise in HIV infections among young people to advances in antiretroviral drug therapy (commonly referred to as “drug cocktails”). The perception had begun to form among the younger demographic of the gay community that HIV infection wasn’t really such a big deal anymore since these drug cocktails essentially allowed you to live forever – or at least to a close approximation of a normal lifespan.

The play is written as a comedy, but is subtly underpinned by a sobering reality in the lives of its two protagonists. It’s centered around two young gay men sitting in a bar, making catty remarks about their many past sexual conquests that come and go before them throughout the evening. As their zingers, barbs and one-liners fly, they periodically – and without mention until the very end – reach into their shirt pockets to pop another pill from their prescribed “cocktail.”

The goal was to write a play that was first and foremost entertaining, but that also managed to slip in something of a wake-up call amid the hilarity. After all, and as we all know, a great big spoonful of sugar always helps the medicine go down.

And yet here we are now, in 2017, and regrettably those alarming rates of infection remain disproportionately high among LGBT+ youth.

What better time, then, for ‘Cocktail Conversation’ to make a reappearance, because quite frankly even if just one person who saw the show was moved to think twice and perhaps reassess their behavior patterns, it will have been worth it.

Already this year the play has received a production at Blackburn College in Illinois, and I was just recently informed that it's been selected for production by the wonderfully named Rabbit’s Riot Theatre Company of Sligo, Ireland, as part its upcoming Where We Are Now festival – Sligo’s first ever LGBT+ theatre festival – taking place this June.

It will also be the first ever production of a play of mine in Ireland, making it doubly gratifying on a personal level.

Done!

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