Based on the story, The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, written by Irish novelist, playwright George Moore, it tells of the life of a woman in 19th century Dublin passing as a male servant in order to survive, not just economically but socially. The story has often been retold on screen and stage owing to the enduring nature of the themes and life of ‘Albert’ in his many guises.
Most recently the film has been given the ‘big-screen’ film treatment starring Glen Close in the starring role. It was thirty years ago, however, when Close first played this role in an off-Broadway production in a stage version written and directed by Simone Benmussa.
The play was performed at the Manhattan Theater Club, in New York in 1982. The review from the New York Times of that production, dated 18 Jun 1982, makes special mention of the performance of the role of Nobbs by none other than a young actress called Glen Close:
“Miss Close, so lovely in ''Barnum'' and as Elena in ''Uncle Vanya'' at the Yale Repertory Theater, is almost unrecognizable as Albert. It is not simply a matter of her boyish hairdo -darkened and cut short - but of her manner, movement and sensibility. She is a timid youth who is efficient at work but without grace, eager to please but afraid to be expressive. The play is a curio, but the performance is transforming.”
Moving forward to 1996, Druid Theatre Company brought the Benmussa directed production to Druid Lane Theatre in July of that year. Jane Brennan would star in the role of Albert alongside cast members Dawn Bradfield, Aoife Kavannagh, Clara Simpson and others. The play would receive great critical and audience reception, with the Irish Times calling it “a rare harmony, a complete unity of execution”. The Druid archive, here in the James Hardiman Library, hold many files relating to this production. The catalogue can be accessed in full here . The files relating specifically to this production are as follows:
T2/233 Scope and Content: The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs - From a story by George Moore and directed by Simone Benmussa. Produced at Druid Lane Theatre, Galway. Includes original printed playbill from the production, featuring an article on the play and the works of George Moore by Elizabeth McConnell, Trinity College Dublin, biographical details with images on the cast members and Simone Benmussa and other details. 4 copies. 88 pp Printed flyer from the production featuring play information and booking details. 4 copies. 8 pp Printed invitation to the opening night performance of The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs. 1p. Date:9 Jul 1996 Extent:97 pp
T2/234 Scope and Content: The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs - Black and white photographs taken during rehearsal and production of the Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, devised by Simone Benmussa. Images measure 203mm X 254mm, with a white border of 25mm. Cast members are in costume and on set. Those pictured include director Simone Benmussa , a group shot of cast members outside Druid Theatre, also Clara Simpson, Jayne snow, Jane Brennan, Aoife Kavannagh, Dawn Bradfield and others on stage. Contact sheets contain twelve images per sheet. (11 sheets) Photographer is named as Angus McMahon. Date: Jul 1996 Extent:28 pp
T2/235 Scope and Content: The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs - Typescript press release from Druid Theatre Company regarding details and promotion of The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs. Also includes biographical details on Simone Benmussa and excerpts of press commentary on the production of this work by Druid. Also includes a photocopy of typescript chronology of the life of George Moore, author of the story on which this play is based. Date: Jul 1996 Extent:14 pp
T2/236 Scope and Content: The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs - Photocopy of typescript story, Albert Nobbs, written by George Moore. 22 pp Photocopy of typed script of the Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, devised by Simone Benmussa. Note on cover states the story is translated from French by Barbara Wright. 22 pp Copy of typed script for The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, adopted for the stage and directed by Simone Benmussa from Albert Nobbs by George Moore, translated by Barbara Wright. 47 pp, Date: Undated Extent:91 pp
T2/237 Scope and Content: The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs - Printed poster from the production, featuring cast and production crew information and booking details. Date: Jul 1996 Extent: 1 item