Nancy Harris's No Romance is a play about secret selves and the search for connection in a fractured world. It was first performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, on 1 March 2011, and received the Stewart Parker Trust Award in 2012.
The play comprises three separate, subtly interlinked stories, all taking place in Dublin in the present day. In the first part, two old school friends now in their late 30s, Gail and Laura, are reunited when Laura commissions Gail, a photographer with what appears to be a glamorous and successful international career, to take a series of slightly pornographic portraits of her as a present for her lover's 40th birthday. Gail is a lesbian, something that ensured loneliness at school, and, despite her career and her long and stable relationship with her doctor lover, is more fragile than she seems; her equilibrium is badly shaken by the encounter. In the second, Carmel and Joe are in the funeral parlour awaiting the arrival of 'the relations' for Joe's mother's funeral. Joe is enraged because they've discovered that their recently university-graduated daughter has posted pictures of herself on the internet as the winner of a wet T-shirt competition from her holiday base in Australia; double standards emerge as the mayhem develops over the coffin. In the final part, Michael and his 12-year-old son Johnny are 'helping' Michael's 80-year-old mother to pack up her west Cork cottage prior to moving to a rest-home in Dublin. But Peg is made of stern stuff, her strength forged in the years of a harrowingly bad marriage to Michael's father, and has no intention of being brow-beaten if she can avoid it.
The Abbey Theatre premiere was directed by Wayne Jordan and designed by Paul Keogan, with Janet Moran as Laura, Natalie Radmall-Quirke as Gail, Tina Kellegher as Carmel, Stephen Brennan as Joe, Stella McCusker as Peg, Conor Mullen as Michael and Dáire Cassi as Johnny.