By Eimear McGovern

Fans of sell-out play the ‘Dumped Divorcées Support Group’ will be pleased to hear that they haven’t heard the last of the hilarious story staged in the Millennium Forum last March.

Derry playwright Irene Melaugh is set to stage a follow-up with a new production under the title ‘Dumped Divorcee Rides Again’.

The title will be no surprise to fans of Irene’s work, who have come to expect tongue-in-cheek, suggestive humour from the playwright. She views the issue of divorce through a humorous lens now but when Irene was first divorced in the 1970s, she said there was a stigma around the topic.

“There wasn’t a lot of us about, let’s put it that way. My friends’ parents and husbands would have looked at me differently because they thought I was a bad influence,” she said.

Irene said she won’t give up until she gets it right, which gave her the idea for what is now two plays about a group of friends who are all dumped by their husbands of thirty years for younger models.

By the end of ‘Dumped Divorcées Support Group’, all of the divorcées have found happiness in some form and pursued new journeys, but all is not what it seems, according to Irene.

“If you want to know what happened to these characters after they went into the sunset, you need to come and see this play,” she said.

The next chapter in the story is twice as hilarious as the last, according to Irene. She applies the same humour to her own love life.

“I got married twice and divorced twice and I’ve been to every continent in the world. The first was American and the second was Chinese and I won’t give up until I get it right. I’d like to meet an African next,” she said.

The Derry woman, who now lives in Muff, said all her inspiration for her work comes from the people of Derry, even though she loves watching other comedy shows like ‘Only Fools and Horses’.

“The people in Derry love their own humour and there is no humour better. They want to see characters they can identify with on stage,” said Irene.

Her greatest satisfaction is when the audience tell her they can recognise themselves, their mother or their grandmother up on stage. “One woman told me she was about to go up and sit on the sofa along with us,” she said.

Irene has wasted no time in putting on production after production in recent years, including box-office successes such as ‘Me Da’s Suit’. “That was the first full-length play I ever wrote.

“I was in a comedy group before that called Stretchmarks Unlimited and we wrote our own sketches. I never started until I was in my fifties. I ran a business, I was a home carer. I always wanted to be a writer but I thought you had to have a degree,” she said.

There’s more than one place to watch one of Irene’s productions. She has created Derry’s very first soap opera ‘The McCraic-ens’. Her videos on Facebook about a not-so-typical Derry family receive thousands of shares and Irene creates a fully-immersive experience for fans by writing blogs about the characters.

Her new play ‘Dumped Divorcée Rides Again’ will be staged in the Millennium Forum in February 2018, with rehearsals set to begin in October. Irene will also be holding auditions for several new cast members.

When asked how she comes up with all her material, Irene said that it comes easily once she sits down to write.

“Most of the time I’m very lucky, it’s just there. Writing it in a humorous way doesn’t always come easily,” she said.

“I would never say that this is my last play. I don’t think I will ever stop writing,” she said.

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