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Painting From Memory

    by Hilary Spiers


Drama Play Script: 'Painting From Memory' by Hilary SpiersHow do we know if a memory is real? How can we remember with brutal clarity something which did or did not happen? What is truth?

Louis Mackay, iconoclastic painter and artist, died a tragic early death in a freak accident. His widow, Sheila, elder daughter Frances and disturbed younger daughter Bridget (Bird) have all come to terms with his death in different ways and each has constructed their own reality. When a resurgence of interest in Louis’s career leads a biographer to start writing the story of the artist’s life, the three women in the family have very different motives for wanting their own picture of the famous man to be portrayed. Even in death Louis continues to cast a long shadow and Bird in particular struggles to make sense of events that happened when she was very young but have coloured her life ever since, since she believes herself to be to blame for the accident.

When a perceptive and ambitious American journalist befriends Bird, she manages to allay her initial suspicions about her motives, encouraging her to talk about and look deeper into the events surrounding her father’s death. Bird challenges the mythology that has grown up around her father. Long-suppressed questions and emotions rise to the surface and it is no longer possible to keep a lid on the explosive secrets in the family.

Fearless and iconoclastic herself in her own way, Bird is the spiky, sparky centre of this wry, moving and often unexpectedly funny play which explores the tensions in a fractured family.


(2m, 4f)

  • Bird Mackay (Bridget) - 17
  • Frances Mackay (Franny) - late 20s, her sister
  • Sheila Mackay - 50s, their mother
  • Simon - late 20s
  • Gaynor - early 30s, American
  • Eric Linn - 40s

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