The Last Return wins Scotsman Fringe First Award

Sonya Kelly's new comedy wins international award

12 August 2022

Druid today announced that their world premiere production of Sonya Kelly’s new comedy The Last Return has won a prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Scotsman Fringe First Awards celebrate the best new writing at the festival.

As part of their commitment to new Irish writing, Sonya Kelly’s comedy was produced by Druid in Galway, had its world premiere at the 2022 Galway International Arts Festival in July, and is now running at the Traverse Theatre in the heart of Edinburgh. Following this international run, the production returns to Ireland for dates at Dublin’s Gate Theatre as part of Dublin Theatre Festival in October and November.

News of the Scotsman Fringe First Award follows rave reviews by critics including five-star ratings from What’s On Stage, The Arts Desk and The Wee Review, and praise such as ‘pitch black comic mayhem’ from The Guardian, ‘wonderful’ from The New York Times, and ‘shocking and very funny’ from The Irish Times.

This is the second Scotsman Fringe First Award for playwright Sonya Kelly who previously won in 2012 for her play The Wheelchair on My Face. Druid has won numerous awards at Edinburgh Festival Fringe over the years including in 1980 for two plays, Island Protected by a Bridge of Glass and The Pursuit of Pleasure (both written by Garry Hynes), in 2007 for The Walworth Farce by Enda Walsh, and in 2008 for another Enda Walsh play, The New Electric Ballroom.

Directed by Sara Joyce, 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?

Following the success of Furniture (2018) and Once Upon a Bridge (2021), The Last Return marks the third time Druid has premiered a new work by Sonya Kelly. The Last Return has already earned the acclaimed playwright 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.

Playwright Sonya Kelly: ‘I am thrilled and humbled to receive a Scotsman Fringe First Award for The Last Return at Traverse Theatre. It has been an unforgettable journey getting this play from page to stage with Druid and director Sara Joyce. Here's to the return of live theatre and welcome back Edinburgh Fringe. We missed you.’

Garry Hynes, Druid’s Artistic Director: ‘I am so thrilled for Sonya, for everyone in The Last Return company, and my colleagues in Druid. It’s an honour for us to share Sonya’s work with audiences at home and abroad. I’m also very grateful to our Edinburgh hosts, Traverse Theatre, and to our funders and supporters, including our core funder, the Arts Council of Ireland, and Culture Ireland, who made our Edinburgh run possible.’

The Last Return is currently running at Traverse Theatre as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 28 August. It will then transfer to Dublin's Gate Theatre as part of Dublin Theatre Festival, 13 October - 5 November.