The Lantern Theatre debuts its first ever in-house production this week.
Skirmishes, by Liverpool writer Catherine Hayes, was first performed in 1981, and broadcast as part of the ITV Playhouse series on television the following year; Hayes went on to pen episodes of Brookside and Coronation Street.
The Lantern has been run by mother and daughter team Margaret and Siobhan Connell since 2011; they have always intended to stage their own productions but kept putting projects on the backburner to accommodate touring shows looking to use the space.
Skirmishes is a three-hander about two daughters dealing with their mother’s dementia. Margaret Connell directs and also stars as Jean. Carmel Howard plays Rita and Joan Oakley is the mother.
“As a middle aged woman, I am beginning to be aware of how many people are now looking after elderly parents. My own mum is 87 and has dementia,” Margaret says. “Throughout your life there is always lots of advice from magazines to self help books, about dating, marriage, babies, divorce even. Nobody prepares you for this period in your life – and it comes as a bit of a shock.”
The dark comedy is set at the bedside of Rita and Jean’s ailing mother. Drawing on grim humour, the sisters wrestle with the burden of responsibility, casting a gentle eye on the subject of parental decline.
Skirmishes opens at the Lantern on Tuesday (January 21) and runs until Saturday (January 25), tickets are available from their website.