Donoghue's second work for theatre was commissioned by Glasshouse Productions and the Arts Council of Ireland.
A memory play in which a vaudeville star on the night of her final comeback relives her two marriages (one to a man, one to a woman), Ladies and Gentlemen is closely based on the life of the late nineteenth-century male impersonator Annie Hindle. This play with songs, set mostly in the dressing rooms of busy vaudeville theatres all over North America, was inspired by a real same-sex wedding that took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1886. It resurrects a ragtag troupe of emigrants - most notably, male impersonator Annie Hindle, 'a man's widow and a woman's widower', as the tabloids called her. With a light touch, Ladies and Gentleman explores the ways we perform our roles, both on and off stage.
It appears in Emma Donoghue: Selected Plays (Oberon Books, 2015).
'Extraordinary love story... she tells it wonderfully: simply, tenderly and eloquently... it grabs the interest, the pace never flags' – Sunday Independent
‘Ladies and Gentlemen plays wonderful theatrical games, gently blurring the sexual boundaries... a deeply satisfying and moving meditation on life in love and theatre’ –Sunday Tribune
‘A must-see for anyone who enjoys a good, tragic love story, and a sure thing for those seeking the emotional purge of laughter through tears.’ – San Francisco Examiner
Project Arts Centre, Dublin, directed by David Byrne, produced by Glasshouse Productions, 18 April 1996. (World Premiere)
Burtness Lab Theatre (University of North Dakota), Grand Forks, North Dakota, directed by Kathryn O’Donnell, 3-5 December 1999.
Outward Spiral Theatre, Minneapolis, directed by Suzy Messerole, 14 April 2000. (US professional Premiere)
Exit Theatre, San Francisco, directed by Virginia Reed, produced by the Shee Theatre Company, 20 February to 15 March 2003.
Bread & Water Theatre, Rochester, NY, directed by Elizabeth Chacchia, produced by Bread & Water Theatre, 2010.