Spanning the tumultuous period of the Dublin Lock Out, the IRA bombing campaign in England in 1980s and the recession of today, Philip Doherty believes that in his new play he’s delivered his most ambitious yet.
Fleadh Town of course somehow managed to cram both the buzz and absurdity of Cavan Town becoming Ireland’s temporary party capital into a minimalist set, while the Devil’s Ceili lawfully spiked the audience with an LSD trip with speaking armchairs, and a lap-dancing Mary, so for The Birthday Man to be even more ambitious it does sound like he’s pulling out all the stops.
Given Philip describes it as “almost three different plays in three different genres”, and that there’s over 20 characters played by just a handful of multi-tasking Dublin actors weaving a century-long plot, oh, and they recreate the sense of a mass rally and riot - ambitious could be the word.
“It’s quite a challenge to flip from era to era to era to era, we’re playing with overhead projectors, so there is a mix of multimedia and shadow puppetry and silhouettes. For example, the riot scenes are all done in silhouette with colours of blood coming in.”
Before speaking to Philip and one of the play’s stars, Rex Ryan, the Celt had only seen Padraig Conaty’s brilliant promo video for The Birthday Man. It opens with a line of impoverished people, struggling to survive during the Lock Out, but waiting patiently for any help they can get. Jack, played by Rex, is crestfallen to find that the welfare benefits available in the 21st century are nowhere to be found, and he must make do with a stale loaf. While the video’s central point is sad, it’s injected with Doherty’s humour - and that’s before it takes a typically Gonzo-esque trip into insanity.
Below is an insight into what people can expect from The Birthday Man at Dublin Fringe 2013. See this week's Anglo-Celt newspaper for full interview...
New Doherty play his most ambitious to date
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