Interview: Marie Jones & Ian McElhinney - First Couple of Ulster Theatre; Working with Your Spouse Is Seldom Recommended, but One Local Couple Have Had Phenomenal Success Together on the World Stage. LARA BRADLEY Met Dynamic Duo Marie Jones and Ian McElhinney
Byline: LARA BRADLEY
Marie Jones won world-wide acclaim last year when celebrities literally queued around the block to get tickets to her hit play Stones in His Pockets in London's West End and on Broadway in New York. Even after the September 11 atrocities, Marie's play was still attracting full houses on Broadway.
Marie said: ''Theatre really suffered, but the boys carried on for two weeks and the theatre was packed because people heard the play was going to be pulled and they panicked in case they wouldn't get to see it! It is on a tour of the States now and then it's going on a world tour.''
Marie is now a household name, but what few people realise is that her husband Ian McElhinney is not only instantly recognisable from his many high profile acting roles, but is also a multi-award winning director who was nominated for a prestigious Tony Award for directing Stones in His Pockets.
The husband and wife team are working together again on the world premiere of Marie's latest play Weddins, Weeins and Wakes which previews in the Lyric Theatre in Belfast tonight.
Marie said: ''This is where all my plays started. I wouldn't dream of opening anywhere else. I don't understand why everyone went ballistic about Stones in His Pockets so I don't feel the need to repeat it. That's not the focus of my life at all. My sons are still small and I'm having the time of my life in Belfast.''
Weddins, Weeins and Wakes is the story of two elderly ladies, Molly and Mona, who watch the comings and goings of the younger generations with a mixture of hilarity and despair.
Marie said: ''One of them was a midwife and the other a body washer but they don't have those functions anymore. Then, one twelfth of July, the roads are blocked with marches and one of the neighbours' daughters has a baby and the auld grandad drops dead and suddenly they have no option but to become fully involved in their community again.
''I worked with the language to try and hand down some of the old words my ma used to use.
"It's a way of preserving the lyricism of the language.''
Ian, who is directing the play, added: ''It's all done in rhyming couplets, but you would never realise that unless you were told as we have really worked against it. …