Clare Barrett and Steve Blount in MINDING FRANKIE.

Clare Barrett and Steve Blount in MINDING FRANKIE. Photo Credit: Breda Cashe

Gordon Snell talks to Frankly My Dear UK about bringing his late wife’s final novel, MINDING FRANKIE, to the stage

Maeve Binchy’s last novel MINDING FRANKIE has been brought to life on stage in a new adaption by Shay Linehan. 

Based on the 2010 novel of the same name, MINDING FRANKIE tells the story of Noel whose life is suddenly turned upside down when a former fling with tells him she’s pregnant with his baby – and that she’s going to die from cancer. Noel must raise their daughter, Frankie but social worker Moira Tierney has other ideas and is prepared to do battle for custody of the child.

Ahead of its run at Salford’s The Lowry, Maeve Binchy’s husband, Gordon Snell, talks to Lucy Moore from Frankly My Dear UK about bringing her final novel to life on stage.

Frankly My Dear UK (FMD): Why was the decision made to only have two actors play all of the roles?

Gordon Snell (GS): I think Linehan decided that the story really boiled down to the conflict between Noel and the social worker, so that’s what the focus was on. The performers do a great job though, you really get a sense there’s this entire group of people helping to raise Frankie and at the end, it’s almost a surprise to see there’s only two of them!

FMD: In a lot of media today, social workers are portrayed quite negatively, but that isn’t as much the case with Moira. Why do you think this is?

GS: They’re often viewed as quite a negative force on families, and I suppose the same is true of Moira in both the book and the play, but we get to know her background, and there’s a sense of loneliness about her. She puts a lot of pressure on herself to get through it. I was very pleased with Claire Barrett’s performance, she’s much more upbeat about social workers, and she’s much more cheery and robust. I think she does social workers a service rather than the opposite.

FMD: How much were you involved with the process?

GS: Well I worked with Shay on it, but it’s all his work, I just gave a few suggestions. Shay showed me the scripts as they developed and I made various suggestions. Wholly I think Shay did it right, he’s done a wonderful job. It does make a wonderful evening in the theatre, and I’m glad it’s going so well!

FMD: How much has the show changed from its source material?

GS: Well, in the original story we don’t get to know what happens to Noel and Frankie, but we thought it was quite satisfying for the audience to find out. You want to see him succeed, become this father, which he does, and that’s really quite satisfying.

FMD: What’s next for Minding Frankie?

GS: Well it finishes it’s run at the Lowry this week but hopefully some other theatre will pick it up. I think it deserves it as it’s such a good theatrical event.

FMD: Why do you think people should see Minding Frankie?

GS: They’ll get a very entertaining and rewarding evening in the theatre! It’s a very good, dramatic evening in the theatre. The characters come to life and I think it’s really very funny as well as having this great conflict at the heart of it, so I think it’s a very satisfying evening in the theatre.

Maeve Binchy’s MINDING FRANKIE runs at The Lowry, Salford until 23 June 2018.