Carrie Byrne

Carrie Byrne

If you are looking for a new theatre show to check out in London, then look no further than Abandon; which has been written by Carrie Byrne and Cathy Rosario.

We caught up with Carrie to chat about the play, the inspiration behind the very modern comedy and what lies ahead.

- You have written and produced a new play called Abandon, so can you tell me a little bit about it?

It is primarily a story about love and looking for love online and the encounters that happen, and the strange people that you meet that you don’t have a history with.

People have said from watching the play in rehearsals that the strongest relationship is actually the sibling rivalry; that was something that didn’t occur to me when I was writing it.

However, it is actually the sister’s jealousy and love for each other that is the ultimate thread throughout the story. But it is absolutely about how social media makes it appear to have a much wider choice; but that can be more confusing as well.

- As you say it is a comedy about the perils of internet dating, so where did the idea for the story come from?

From a friend of mine who fell in love with a guy who she met online, but then he found out something about her that he didn’t like and dumped her.

She was absolutely furious because she couldn’t reason with him; she thought she was going to move in with him. She plotted a very clever online campaign against him, shall we say.

- Can you talk to me a bit about your writing process - as this was written with Cathy Rosario? And how did it take you to pen this story?

Six weeks. I came to her with a very strong plot and a very strong idea; I have a background in storytelling and Cathy, my friend, has always liked my stories.

She has always been a better writer than me as she has a background in writing working at Goldsmiths and is currently doing her PHD in play writing. She has a fantastic approach, and she knows what will and will not work in terms of dialogue.

But I came to her with very strong characters and a very clear idea of how I wanted the story to be told. Then she and I whipped up the dialogue.

We just told each other jokes, and if we didn’t make each other burst out laughing, then the joke couldn’t stay in the play; so we were very hard on each other with the humour.

It is very rare that you get two playwrights that write together; however, we think it is much more of a comedy than just a play, and I think that an awful lot of comedy is written by people.

- Well, you have led into my next question really. I was wondering how you found the co-writing situation? Was it something that you had done before?

It is something that is quite new to me, but it is certainly something that is faster and more effective; if you can get really precious, you can get really far very quickly with your partner.

- It is a very modern story that looks at Facebook and being dumped online and so on. So what sort of research did you do as you were penned the story?

Research was very much word of mouth as I was very interested in people’s own human experience of it. I found that my real fascination with internet dating came from the fact that everyone I met had a hilarious story about it.

A really good friend of mine had met a really perverted vicar on a dating website, and he was really cross that she wouldn’t get into bed with him on the first date.

Then someone else told me a story about how this guy that accused her of stealing his garden gnome. She was like ‘I think you are a weirdo. Why would I steal your garden gnome?’ He then launched a Twitter campaign against her; he became a Twitter troll over this garden gnome.

I met ordinary separated women who were going back out into the dating arena and finding that online was their best option in meeting someone. But having really really strange experiences in terms of expectation from men.

- Natasha Markou has directed the play so how did you end up working with her? And what were you looking for in your director?

Natasha is amazing. I was looking for someone who was very structured, someone who loved our script and someone who was willing to work extremely hard for not very much money; it is all profit share.

Natasha just had the vibrancy and the energy; she trained in Miami in film and theatre.

She also has an amazing understanding of theatre because she is Greek and has worked a lot in Greek theatre. She is just a very calm and impressive type of person. She is young and full of energy - I would beg her to let me leave rehearsals (laughs).

- How are rehearsals going?

Great, we are nearly there; I am hoping that we are nearly there. It has been an awful lot of fun, and I feel privileged to be working with such fine comedy actors; we were very lucky that we managed to recruit exactly the kind of people that we wanted to.

They have given up so much of their time; actors at this level are not paid, and so they give up paid work in order to do this stuff. I am very grateful to them for that.

- Speaking of your cast, Fiona Cuskelly and Alexander Kiffin star in the play, so what were you looking for when you were casting your central role?

We were looking for a really cheeky, audacious, arrogant but very likeable and sexy black man to play our male lead. We met twenty-five or thirty guys. Alexander just walked into the room, and the chemistry was just there between him and Fiona.

Even though Alex is quite a big younger than we had in mind, and Fiona is a little bit older than we had in mind, but the chemistry was just electric between them. So we recruited them.

We got people in to do double readings, so we knew that the chemistry was right. So when we were looking for our female lead, we got her in at the same time as him. We just played around with various couples until we got the chemistry was right.

Paul Christian Rodgers is playing this really wacky PHD guy who is obsessed with the disappeared in Argentina (laughs). This ties in nicely with one of our plot lines as well.

He has a fascination for Keira, who I play in the play, and she is a bit of a cougar. I get a lot of the funny lines as I am a really smart-arse and power-crazy woman in the play. I am fascinated by him, and we have a very strange relationship.

- When and where can we see the show?

The show kicked off in London n 15th September and it will run for three weeks up to October 6th. The venue is the CLF Café; which is an amazing multi-arts venue.

It is an amazing warehouse space that we have right in the middle of Peckham - which is now a super cool area to go out to the theatre at the moment.

The tickets are only £12 and you can visit to buy the tickets.

- So how did you get into writing for theatre?

By being self-funding. I have been a technical writer for quite a long time; I am a trained technical writer for manuals and that sort of thing.

I have always loved writing, and I have always felt that you can turn your hand to other forms of writing once you know that you can write.

I have always written letters that have made people laugh, and people have always told me that I am a good comedy writer, and I should write a play or gags.

I wrote this play because I wanted to have intense characters that all have unique senses of humour. So, it wasn’t that I just wanted to write for a theatre, I wanted to write to make people laugh.

That does lead me into my next question actually. How much does writing for other mediums interest you? TV or film perhaps?

Absolutely. As long as I can just write jokes that make sense in a good and strong storyline that would be great.

I wouldn’t be interested in just writing comedy or being a stand-up comedian; it has to have really strong characters that leave you with your mouth open because they are so odd but fabulous.

- Finally, what is next for you?

I am going to do a new play with Cathy. We are going to do a modern take on Othello; however, the central character won’t be black he will be white.

And we are also going to do a very whimsical 1970s Irish based piece. So we are going to be writing those very soon.

by for
find me on and follow me on