A new play by Sonya Kelly, The Last Return

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Today we announced that our world premiere production of Sonya Kelly’s new play The Last Return will take place at this year’s Galway International Arts Festival. Following the success of Furniture (2018) and Once Upon a Bridge (2021), The Last Return marks the third time Druid will premiere a new work by the acclaimed playwright. Also announced today, we will present two new Druid Debuts at this year’s Festival, as part of our ongoing commitment to new Irish writing.

The Last Return is a thrilling comedy about conflict, peace and the pursuit of territory at any cost. One final night. One last chance. Five people queue for a ticket to the hottest show in town. All they must do is simply wait in line. But what in life is ever simple? Who will triumph, who will fail, and who will walk away with… The Last Return?

The Last Return has already earned playwright Sonya Kelly a nomination for The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, while Once Upon a Bridge was nominated for Best New Play at the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Awards in 2021, and Furniture won the Stewart Parker Trust Award in 2019. Critics praised Once Upon a Bridge for packing ‘a terrific, touching punch’ (Sunday Independent) and Furniture for being ‘whip smart’ (Irish Independent) and ‘wickedly insightful’ (The Irish Times).

Sara Joyce (Once Upon a Bridge) will direct a cast of Fiona Bell, Anna Healy, Bosco Hogan, Fionn Ó Loingsigh and Naima Swaleh. The creative team will include Druid’s long-term collaborator Francis O’Connor (set and costume design), Amy Mae (lighting design) and Anna Clock (sound design and composition).

Following two years of online readings, our annual rehearsed play reading series, Druid Debuts, will return as in-person events at this year’s Festival. Selected from almost 400 submissions, this year’s plays will be announced in June. Previous Druid Debuts have subsequently premiered as full Druid productions including Sonya Kelly’s Furniture which was read as a Druid Debut at the Festival in 2017.

Playwright Sonya Kelly: ‘Inspired by a chillingly hostile afternoon I once spent queueing for theatre tickets, The Last Return is not only a play about a play, but an absurdist mediation on the justification of human conflict, and how far we are prepared to go in the pursuit of what we desire. I am thrilled to be back with Druid for a third time and to have this work premiere at The Mick Lally Theatre as part of Galway International Arts Festival.’

Garry Hynes, Druid’s Artistic Director: 'It is an honour for Druid to continue our relationship with Sonya Kelly and to produce The Last Return, our third time presenting the world premiere of a new play by this most talented of Irish writers. Sonya’s work speaks to our hearts and our minds and gives us a right laugh along the way, and I believe The Last Return might just be her best work yet. I can’t wait for Festival audiences to experience it this summer.'

Paul Fahy, Galway International Arts Festival’s Artistic Director: ‘It is always a delight to work with the brilliant Druid and we are thrilled once again to have them and the super talented Sonya Kelly as part of this year’s Festival programme. With a stellar cast and creative team, audiences have a real treat in store with Sonya’s wonderful and bitingly funny new play.’