Ourselves Alone

© By Anne Devlin

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The play centres on three sisters living without men in Andersonstown in the 1980s. They are the wives and girlfriends of prisoners. Anne Devlin lived in Andersonstown from 1963 to 1971. She says she simply imagined herself back into that situation. One of the sisters, Freida is a hairdresser but aspires to be a songwriter Josie is a political activist and Donna, a mother, is waiting for their brother to come out of prison. Their father is called Malachy, and the brother prisoner is Liam. The newcomer is Joe. Freida is in conflict with her father over a friendship with John McDermot and at the heart of Josie’s story is the questioning or interrogation of Joe’s motives.

Second Policeman:Is there something up there?
Fredia Yes leaves.
First Policeman: Leaves?
Fredia: Yeah. Its autumn and the leaves are falling so what you have to do is stand under a really big tree and wait til they fall.
Second Policeman: Why?
Fredia: You have to try and catch them before they reach the ground. And for every one you catch you have one happy day next year. So I was standing here trying to catch three hundred and sixty five before you came along.
First Policeman Are you trying to make a fool of us?
McDermot: No look we’re terribly sorry. She was a bit depressed so we thought we’d come out and try and catch a few leaves to cheer her up.
Second Policeman: Go on home now before you cause anymore trouble.
Freida: Trouble? Is it trouble to want to be happy? Do you not know about catching leaves? Do you not remember?

Extract courtesy of Anne Devlin

Anne Devlin wrote in the 1986 theatre programme:

“I began this play with two women’s voices – one funny and one serious- and then I found I had a third – the voice of a woman listening. And then the father and a stranger came into the room . And I found myself wondering who the stranger was and what he was doing there . And I set the play in Andersontown because once I used to live there- and I still do.”

Further Infomation


October 1985






First produced at the Liverpool Playhouse in a co-production with the Royal Court in 1985.
Irish Theatre Tour with Royal Court 1986 August to September Dir Simon Curtis
Hamburg Schaus Spiel Haus 1986 Dir Peter Palach
Washington Arena Stage 1987 Dir Les Walters


Michael Coveney in the Financial Times: ‘sinewy, urgent and alive’
Milton Shulman in The Standard: ‘intense, exciting and provocative ‘
Punch: ‘If you want to understand Ireland now, says this play, look at the lives of the women there.’
Time Out: ‘Another Irish play but one with a difference. Ourselves Alone heralds the arrival to the stage of Anne Devlin and it should not be missed.‘