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A Holiday Message from Tamar Simon Hoffs

Writer/Director of RED ROSES AND PETROL

When I first saw Red Roses and Petrol, the wickedly funny Irish play by Joseph O’Connor, I felt an immediate connection to the central characters, the members of the Doyle family of Dublin -- father, mother, son and daughters.  The Doyles live oceans away from me, but all families are more the same than different.  What binds us deeply is that family is such a powerful force in all of our lives. 

While writing the screenplay, my hope was that everyone seeing the film would identify with our film family.  I admit that I began to notice an uncanny resemblance between my own family and the Doyles – after all, family is family, with its affection and ambivalence, grievances and sudden bursts of endearing laughter.

The film’s Enda Doyle, is the image of an all-powerful patriarch that his children both love and fear.  A charming and talented university librarian and poet, he is acutely aware of his unfulfilled artistic dreams and deeply troubled by his failures -- especially in his relationships with his loved ones.

Moya Doyle is a beautiful, sweet and caring woman who never ventures beyond her role of loyal wife and mother.  Early on, Moya curtailed her chance to express herself, although she met Enda as a rising young actress on the London Stage.  The Doyles have the usual conflicts in raising children, and in intimacy, yet Moya and Enda love each other -- and also hate each other in ways that may seem familiar to many married couples.

The family’s adult son, Johnny, wants to please Enda, but can never measure up professionally or give or receive the love they both wish to share.  He lives in London, but keeps a soft spot for his loving mom.  

Daughters Catherine and Medbh feel neglected by their distracted father.  Catherine, the eldest child, runs away to New York, to find a life and man of her own.  While, Medbh, housebound by her guilty attachment to good hearted Moya, struggles to be free and grow up.

Plenty of sibling revelry abides in this family, with volatile shifts between love and hate, laughter and tears.  Johnny pretends to be tough and lauds it over his sisters, while they have their own brand of competition and envy, often feeling like second class citizens in a male dominated culture.

And, then there's Enda's secret love affair that results in unforeseen consequences.  Enda ultimately comes clean with revelations he was never brave enough to express directly and we witness the emotional avalanche that follows.   Even with the complex web of these relationships, Red Roses and Petrol is ultimately about every person’s perpetual yearning for love.

I hope you discover, as I did, that characters in your lives resemble members of the Doyle Clan.   If you missed Red Roses and Petrol in theaters, the DVDs are now available and I encourage you to make them entertaining gifts for family members and friends on your holiday gift list. 

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