The acclaimed play Women on the Verge of HRT, penned by playwright Marie Jones, is making a return to The Gaiety Theatre on 30 April, a full decade since its last performance there. Demonstrating its lasting appeal and the timeless nature of its themes, this play explores the lives of two women navigating the complexities of middle age, blending humour with poignant moments in a way that speaks to everyone.

The play was an audience favourite, thanks to Marie’s writing and sharp wit as well as the play’s authentic portrayal of its characters’ journeys.

The story tells of two middle-aged women and friends, Vera (previously played by Marie) and Anna, as they embark on a weekend getaway to Donegal for the annual Daniel O’Donnell concert.

However, things don’t go according to plan when they get more than they bargained for, not to mention hot flushes.

“A lot of producers were asking me to bring the show back. I felt it had been done but they were saying that the topic is more talked about now and people understand it better,” says Marie. “When we first did it, it was almost subversive, so I thought it might not work in the same way now. But the thing was, often I would meet women and they would tell me about going to see the play the first time and how much they loved it, asking me to bring it back. Saying to me: ‘When I went to see it, I brought my mummy because she was of the age, but now I’ll be going myself because I’m of the age.’

“So, while the topic is talked about more and written about, it’s still very medical. Not much has changed for women and how they feel, or are made to feel; the emotions don’t change over time. Women on the verge of HRT, as somebody said to me, they’ll always be there.”

The other thing for Marie is the actresses who are in the production now. “I remember saying to them when they were much younger, ‘I would love to see you two perform this play so ring me as soon as you get your first hot flush.’ Here they are now. They said to me that when they saw it years ago, they thought, that’s never going to be us, but they are those women now. And here we are.”

This updated production promises to be a riot of laughter with a cast including Katie Tumelty (City of Embers, Fly Me To The Moon, Betrothed), Jo Donnelly (Line of Duty, Lyric’s Playboy of the Western World), and Ciarán O’Brien (Ripper Street, Fair City).

Lifelong career

Marie is the playwright of this West End hit, which is synonymous with the best of Northern Ireland theatre. She is best known for her award-winning works including Stones in His Pockets, which played on Broadway, and A Night in November. Her work has resonated with audiences as she captures the essence of Irish culture while tackling real-life issues, making her stories incredibly relatable and engaging.

Marie Jones on stage performing in Women on the verge of HRT in 1996

Marie is not only a writer but also an actress, having appeared in the films Philomena and In The Name Of The Father. She is also a founding member of the theatre group Charabanc.

This production of Women on the verge of HRT is directed by Matthew McElhinney, Marie’s son. Matthew has had a highly successful career as a director including the production of Betrothed, which appeared at Belfast’s Grand Opera House to a completely sold-out run and the 25th anniversary production of his mum’s play, A Night in November.

Matthew McElhinney

“Matthew was part of the reason I wanted to do it again, because he’s directed a lot of my stuff like Stones in his Pocket,” says Marie. “He knows me. He has grown up with these plays, he’s watched them and been everywhere to see them. When it came to doing this, he has put a younger more contemporary slant on it and just taken the play and put it under a different level. I think it needed that because we’re in 2024 now and it has been a long time since I wrote it.

“Things have changed. We can use a lot of that without really changing the heart of the play. You have to be very careful never to do that. I knew he would look after it and he knows exactly what I think and how I behave. He’s lived with me long enough!”

“It’s just part our family; we’re all in the business. My husband is Ian McElhinney, an actor too (Derry Girls, High Country, Taggart, The Tudors). When we go home at night and talk about it, it’s exciting to hear the different things that we’re doing and chat about work together.”

Women On The Verge of HRT takes place in The Gaiety Theatre, Dublin from 30 April to 4 May. Tickets priced from €17.50, on sale from

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