Lesbian love story wins Popcorn Writing award for new play Edinburgh never got to see

A drama about an ageing lesbian couple’s love, and their experience of discrimination and dementia, has won a prize for new plays that were due to be presented at this year’s Edinburgh fringe.

Jennifer Lunn’s play, Es and Flo, was set to premiere at Edinburgh’s Traverse theatre this summer before the Covid-19 pandemic led to the fringe’s cancellation. It has now beaten more than 130 other scripts to win the Popcorn Writing award 2020 for new work.

The prize is run by the production company the Popcorn Group, which called Es and Flo “a moving and brave piece about kindness, generations of women coming together, and most of all the strength people find in choosing their own families”. Lunn, who receives a £2,500 prize, thanked the judges for “choosing a story celebrating a diverse and intersectional group of women” and said the award enabled “the gift all writers need – time to write”.

A shortlist of eight was whittled down from 133 eligible plays that were due to premiere at the venues run by Assembly, Gilded Balloon, the Pleasance, Summerhall, Underbelly and the Traverse. There were two other finalists, Matilda Ibini (awarded £1,500 for the play Little Miss Burden) and Chris Thompson (awarded £1,000 for the play Burn). Camilla Whitehill received a “special mention” prize of £500 for her script Daddy.

Extracts from all four of the plays have been filmed by actors from their homes in lockdown. Sharon D Clarke and Celia Imrie perform a scene from Es and Flo, with Kit Harington and Tuppence Middleton and Rory Bremner among the cast for the other extracts.

The Popcorn Writing award was established to “champion fearless work which playfully and artistically questions and addresses current affairs, societal trends and contributes positively to public debate”. This year’s judging committee included the producer Francesca Moody and actors Ruth Wilson and Wunmi Mosaku.