By Abbie Spallen
Directed by Andrew Flynn
“Of course, hindsight’s a fuckin’ wonderful thing isn’t it? Lookin’ back now I can still hear his voice sayin’ ‘What about your woman up in the garage? The Pumpgirl? The one who walks like John Wayne and looks like his horse’”…
There’s one in every town, and they call her the Pumpgirl. She works in the garage, changes the oil and thinks she’s one of the lads. She’s sweet on ‘No-Helmet’ Hammy, but he loves no-one but himself. He’s out all night with his racing boys, whilst wife Sinead’s off on a joyride of her own, with an ache that’s about to be cured.
A turbo-charged race through the diesel fumes and country music of the Armagh badlands. Abbie Spallen’s explosively comic play takes us deep into the unspoken thoughts and darkest desires of three lives destined to collide.
Pumpgirl, written by Newry playwright Abbie Spallen, is set in a petrol station just north of the border, located on the wrong side of the fluctuating exchange rate. The business is on its last legs. Battered, faded signs grace the stage – desperate attempts at enticing customers with cheap bottles of cola.
Pumpgirl was originally produced by the Bush Theatre, London and received its premiere at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006. It was produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York in 2007 to rave reviews. Awarding the play four stars, The Guardian praised the production, writing, ‘Abbie Spallen comes out all guns blazing, with writing so sparky and intricately observed, it seems as if it might spontaneously combust.’ The New York Times considered Pumpgirl ‘a fiercely observed, unflinching play, emphasising the staggering force of good storytelling.’
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Spallen creates and peoples the borderlands of south Armagh with remarkable finesse. Showing plenty of writerly flourishes and psychological wisdom, she is a vital and hugely intelligent talent. This revival of her breakthrough play is timely. Irish Independent, 2017
With sparkling assurance, Abbie Spallen’s Pumpgirl splices comedy and tragedy. Decadent Theatre’s involving, intense production terrifyingly exposes the loneliness and desperation of marginalised characters, claustrophobically trapped by circumstance. Under Andrew Flynn’s taut, surgically-precise direction, this production is carefully-attuned to the small-town cruelties at the heart of a darkly comic, uncompromising text. Broadway World, 2017
A fiercely observed, unflinching play…Ms. Spallen’s penetrating language and unsentimental view place it among the most powerful, adding a fresh, female voice to the boys’ club of Irish playwrights…turns bare-bones setting into a strength, emphasizing the staggering force of good storytelling. The New York Times, 2007
Abbie Spallen comes out all guns blazing, with a piece of sparky and intricately observed writing. The Guardian, 2006 ★★★★
Spallen structures her play like a piece of music, seamlessly slipping between subject and counter-subject…jolts into top gear as three lives career wildly and compellingly out of control. The Independent UK, 2006