According to Sydney by Gerry Lynch

Directed by Caroline FitzGerald, and Starring Rose Henderson

By popular demand!  “According to Sydney” is coming back to the Mill for two weeks 23 May to 3 June Mon to Fri @ 1pm. 10 performances only.  Book early to avoid disappointment 01-2969340 – 

Tickets €14 includes sandwich and coffee

Sunday Times – Eithne Shortall – 20/2/2011

Ruth’s husband of 20 years has died and she is angry, not at death for taking Sydney away but at herself for putting up with him for so long.  Sydney had strict views about everything, from declining social behaviour to why Ruth’s shoes had to be dull in colour. 

Sitting on a park bench, Ruth (Rose Henderson) remembers the other woman who turned up to her husband’s funeral wearing red heels.  Ruth’s fury relates not to sexual betrayal so much as images of herself at home giving in to Sydney’s strict views, and his Swedish mistress enjoying herself on his business junkets.  Ruth feels she has been taken for granted, and after years of suffering in silence, she is finally ready to vent.  It’s worth giving her a hearing.

Irish Theatre Magazine – Derek West – 18/2/2011

The studio at the Mill is an unprepossessing cuboid; the set for According to Sydney uninspiring (a garden bench and some scraps of ferns to denote a park) so there is little to prepare the lunchtime audience for the animation that Rose Henderson brings to the space.

The energy derives from a number of things:  Gerry Lynch has written an intelligent piece, and for suburbanites everywhere, a piece that trades in the familiar.  Lynch cut his playwright teeth on radio, so while the action is static, the writing sparkles with sharp observation – “domestic dialogue was not an option”, a glorious pun on Orwell, the writer and the road in Rathgar; “I grew tired of being wrong”; “It was hell having him at home”; “Life is like a subject for an exam”.  Behind the cozy and local lies a degree of discomfort.

Ruth has lost her husband of twenty years to a stroke.  Now she’s half-heartedly doing 2.5 circuits of the park for her health (she’s a diabetic) and in every sense she’s clinging to the edge.  She pauses on the bench to confide in the strangers before her.  Her narrative is of Rathmines, trim lawns, a hatred of pigeons, murder mysteries – Morse and Frost – the Buttery in TCD, musicals and crooners, accountants and auctioneers and the minutiae of medical complaints.  At one level it’s what one might overhear in the shopping-centre coffee shop.  Its authenticity gives it traction, but the familiarity masks a menace.

Through Ruth’s narrative, the other main character – the invisible, deceased Sydney – emerges from behind the bourgeois facade as a monster.  He is portrayed as a man who liked clarity of thought and purpose; hated fiction, loved history; reacted with tyrannical irritability to certain colours; had a fastidiousness that led him to hand-wash his own socks and to favour cremation – on grounds of hygiene and of economy.  (She buries him, nevertheless, a minor revenge.)  The convention of a long marriage barely conceals the condescension, the sneering and the bullying.

Rose Henderson’s portrayal of Ruth is spirited, lively, and full of facial and verbal nuance.  Director Caroline FitzGerald, with a lightness of touch, has allowed the actor plenty of room to develop the portrait of an interesting lady and to animate that neutral space.  Henderson makes Ruth bright-eyed and positive.  Is it the exhilaration of new-found release, or is it the brave face of the desolate widow?  Really Sydney sounds so awful she’s far better off without him, but the twist in the plot is that “another woman” came to the funeral, and this has dented Ruth’s assurance.  (“Did I know him at all?”)

There’a a psychological honesty about the piece.  It presents a patina of normality, the polite desperation of the middle-classes, locked into arrangements that drain away the spirit.  Deceits make it bearable: it seems that Sydney – incredibly – had a mistress; Ruth squirreled away some of the money she inherited from her mother.  Scandals around marital failures (the son’s wife gone to California with a nusician; her dentist brother-in-law decamped with the dental nurse) are hushed up.  While Ruth can now buy the pink, comfortable shoes she wants, contemplate a ciggie or munch chocolate (in one excellent, timely moment the Kit-Kat becomes a kind of comfort blanket) and while she relives with some glee the way she taunted the despised spouse, just prior to demise, with oblique references to her first love – her victory is somewhat pyrrhic  She wonders if she helped him on his way (the sub-title is “..maybe I went too far in the end!”) but, as she strides off to the 45 bus-stop, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to her new-won freedom.

Mail on Sunday – 20/2/2011

It was nice to see a full house for the launch of a new lunchtime season at the Mill, Dundrum.  The small Studio at the Mill gives a sense of intimacy between the performer and the audience that suits a one-woman play. 

The story is narrated by Ruth, a woman who recently buried her husband, Sydney and who is just beginning to feel the pleasure of release from his petty tyrannies.  He was the ultimate killjoy, a fussy pedantic bore for whom his wife became almost invisible, except when she was interrupting his History Channel of documentary programmes.

As played by Rose Henderson, Ruth is a chatty outgoing character, intelligent and lively, who will hop happily from subject to subject and who enjoys the simple pleasures of reading, gardening or watching television for entertainment.  She’s obviously a well-educated woman, condemned to live life through the deadening dictates of the all-knowing, all-wise and ultimately hypocritical Sydney. 

Since he had high blood pressure, should Ruth have looked after him or let it help him on his way?  And who was that woman with the red shoes at his funeral? 

This is an enjoyable 50 minute piece and Rose Henderson plays Ruth with a nice mixture of annoyance, resignation and humour.

Fair City

Rose appears in Fair City as Val O’Dwyer, Tue 5 April and Wed 6 April.  An unhappy first meeting, maybe there is a chance Val can help Christy unburden his sorry story.

Raw 3

Restaurant drama Raw has been brought back by popular demand for a third series.  Rose plays Mrs. Moloney, Registrar of births deaths and marriages.  The main character wants to bring forward the wedding as her mother in law is driving her crazy with demands.  There need to be extenuating circumstances to warrant a change of date and the young would-be bride obliges by pretending she’s pregnant.  Mrs. Moloney stretches the rules to let her have her way, and there happens to have been a cancellation for next week!  Directed by Charlie McCarthy, this series is due to be aired by RTE and ITV early 2011.

Behold the Lamb

Dumbworld Productions present a first feature film for Director John McIlduff.  Set in Northern Ireland it is a comic drama starring Aoife Duffin and Nigel O’Neill.  Rose plays Ivy, a professional foster mother.  She is childless , a fact she attributes to her useless husband Stan (Paddy Rocks), and always has at least five foster kids under her care.  Kevin, one of her foster children, is disabled and a week after his birthday his mother Liz comes to visit.  Liz is pregnant again, and Ivy expects to foster the new baby.  She knows Liz is a drug user, and a physical and emotional mess and she warns her not to mess things up this time.


A comic sci-fi feature film recorded in Dublin, Rose plays Mrs. Reilly, the main character’s landlady.  Joe comes home to see lights under the door and bursts into the room, ray gun aimed at a shocked Mrs. Reilly who is blowing up balloons for his birthday.  “How did you know it was my birthday?” he asks as he disuades her from doing a bit of tidying.  “I saw it in your passport!”   The film is directed by Alan Brennan and produced by Rippleworld Productions.

Single Handed

A 6 part drama on RTE 1 Sunday nights at 9.30pm from 6 November, directed by Thaddeus O’Sullivan and Charlie McCarthy and starring Owen McDonnell.  Rose plays a vital role as supportive neighbour to a man who’s wife has been found inside a burnt out warehouse building.  Set in stunning Connemara, this series will soon be broadcast on ITV.

ICA Boot Camp

Independent Pictures presents a mocumentary where 4 young girls are put through their paces by ICA stallworts at An Ghriannan in Termonfeckin.  Finding out that the fresh chicken they are asked to cook for dinner is not only still warm but needs to be plucked first, causes difficulty for the young 20-somethings who are not even sure how to turn on an oven.  They are introduced to dressmaking and millinary, and help to make a friendly black pudding before struggling with the instructions on a flatpack.  One of the girls decides to become a vegetarian rather than kill the little piggy, and another will not be wearing a dry-clean only silk blouse in the kitchen again.  Welly boots were invented for a reason!  Directed by Sarah Barron, written by Marion Cullen, and narrated by Rose Henderson.

RTE Network 2, Tuesday 21 September at 10pm

Ruby Tuesday in Leuven Institute, Belgium

For the first time, Culture Night has been extended to include cultural events not only in every county in Ireland but this year, both the Irish Arts Centre New York and the Irish College in Leuven Belgium are offering free events to mark our rich Irish Heritage.  Friday 24 September at 8pm Niall de Burca will entertain with his richly woven storytelling skills, and this will be followed by a performance of the One Act play Ruby Tuesday by Rose Henderson with Helen Norton.  The evening will conclude with a ceili and seisiun.

When the Au Pair Comes to Stay

Rose voices this 4-part documentary for RTE on the experience of having an au pair in your home.  Directed by Traolach O Buachalla and Produced by Niamh Maher, Animo Television.


Dearbhla Brosnan and Rose Henderson

Presented by Innovation Dublin, with Dublin City Public Libraries and the Royal Irish Academy of Music

Books and Music – Two of life’s greatest pleasures

St. Patrick;s Hall, Dublin Castle – Thursday 15th October 7.30pm


Readings by Rose Henderson and Barry McGovern from The Cellist of Sarajevo, The Secret Scripture, Tenderwire, Grace Notes, BelCanto, Music and Silence, Dubliners and others… with music by the RIAM including Romance from The Gadfly by Shostakovitch, Balfe’s I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls, Brahms’ String Quartet, Verdi’s Don Carlos and more…