Hannah Mamalis was deep in rehearsals when we spoke last week. At that point, she hadn’t lost her mind yet. She credited Jeda de Brí as her greatest ally in maintaining her sanity. De Bri directs Mamalis’s debut play, The Egg is a Lonely Hunter, now running at the Project Arts Centre.
“It’s about a girl called Sophie, who works in a shop and has an irrational fear of eggs,” Mamalis explains. “One day, in the small village she lives in, a black hole appears that everyone thinks is a pervert. This sets off a series of events that Sophie must traverse and confront all of her demons, both inward and outward. I usually tag it as a dark comedic odyssey.”
One could use that description for the struggle of segueing from one paragraph to the next. Mamalis isn’t the first person I’ve spoken to that gushed about De Brí. Having bizarrely blanked that praise before, this time I went in for a closer look. Why does everyone love this director? “This is the first time I’ve worked with her in a full-time capacity,” Mamalis says. “She directed a rehearsed reading I did a while ago and I was super impressed then. The atmosphere she brings is always conducive to creativity and exploring the text, questioning it, finding things you didn’t know were there. And at the end of it, you always find yourself on the same page in terms of what you want it to say and express. It’s a great jumping off point for rehearsals, to feel confident in delving into the nitty gritty.”
While writing a play is new territory for Mamalis, she’s quite experienced when it comes to producing material that’s both funny and intelligent. “I’ve written a few sitcoms and short stories. I do some stand-up comedy, too, so I find they can blend quite well together. I think it’s all about determining your style and the things you like or find funny across lots of different practices and then how you can amalgamate them together. Well, that’s what it is for me anyway.”
There is no shortage of influences in Mamalis’s work. Animation and graphic novels inspire her. She lists Don Hertzfeldt’s ‘It’s Such a Beautiful Day’ and Richard McGuire’s ‘Here’ as essential reading. “I really wanted to write something I could perform myself and that mixed the different genres that I love. I really admire performers like Maria Bamford and Greta Gerwig and Jenny Slate. Just brilliant, talented women with their own distinctive voice doing their own thing.
Oooh, also Phoebe Waller Bridge. She’s wonderful.
“I’m a big fan of stories where you find yourself surprised by the feelings you feel, be that unexpected laughter of sadness or just a general sense of connection. I also like stories that despite their slightly surreal content are fundamentally human and fragile and relatable.”
The Egg is a Lonely Hunter runs in the Project Arts Centre until September 17th.
Book your tickets here. I’ve seen it and would recommend it. A review will follow. Has that clashed with your anticipation of the review? I could change my mind. That could happen. I won’t change my mind.