Review: The Secrets of Primrose Square

A production that tracks the bleak reality of life during a pandemic in a south Dublin area

Clelia Murphy in The Secrets of Primrose Square. Photograph: Ste Murray

Claudia Carroll’s 2018 novel The Secrets of Primrose Square enjoyed a revival in popularity in 2020. It was the most downloaded book in Ireland and the UK during Covid-19 lockdown and the most popular audio release in August and September.

Set among residents of a suburban square in south Dublin, its blend of heightened domestic problems and community support was surely comforting to readers stuck at home as they adjusted to the bleak reality of life during a pandemic. Carroll has now adapted her book for the stage, and she shifts the third-person narrative prose into the accessible, confessional form of the monologue, which she splits between a pared down cast of three central female characters.

Susan (Clelia Murphy) is grieving the death of her daughter to a drug overdose. She is aggressive, abrasive, raging with grief. Her daughter Melissa (Megan McDonnell) is grieving the loss of her mother to her sister’s memory; despite being “the good girl”, she is ignored by her parents until she makes her own tragic cry for help. Thankfully, they have their widowed neighbour Jayne (Marion O’Dwyer) to rely upon.

When we first meet Jayne she is about to accept that life has given her a second chance at love. However, it is not her vegan chakra-chanting boyfriend Eric that restores purpose to her life, but her young lost teenage neighbour. Carroll’s story offers us a neat and comforting resolution, but its dramas and conclusion are realistic too.


Director Mark Lambert allows the actors to perform both to the camera ,as well as across the stage to each other. The resulting frame is natural and intimate, even through the mediating screen. The performances are excellent too. Murphy expertly manages the camera as she swings between extreme emotions, while O’Donnell surprises us with her maturity and O’Dwyer with her youthful exuberance. Set designer Kate Moylan offers us visual simplicity with a deeper metaphor too: three brick gable walls that present both the shared exterior world of Primrose Square and private interior spaces in which the individual stories can unfold.

The Secrets of Primrose Square is a sophisticated presentation from Pat Moylan Productions and its wide release through Draíocht, Blanchardstown, Town Hall Theatre, Galway, Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny, Civic Theatre, Tallaght and Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick, will hopefully ensure a wide audience for its simple message of communion and hope.

Stream at home until July 10th, purchase tickets from:


Dunamaise Arts Centre –

Town Hall Theatre
Watergate Theatre
Lime Tree Theatre
The Civic