Chloe O’Reilly (Dolores), Eoghan Collins (Noel), Meadhbh Maxwell (Ber), David Rawle (Dan) and Venetia Bowe (Cactus).

Dan the man

THEATRE Livin’ Dred to open Danti-Dan in Cavan

Town Hall Cavan will open up to full audiences next week with an exciting home grown theatre experience about hormones bursting into bloom. This production of Danti-Dan, Gina Moxley’s tale of the sexual-awakening of five innocent youngsters in a dead-end small town, is brought to life by a young cast of top-class actors.

All are recent graduates of Lir and Gaiety School acting courses. Among them is David Rawle. David came to prominence with his star turn in Chris O’Dowd’s TV series Moone Boy. Further success followed voicing the lead in the much acclaimed animation ‘Song of the Sea’. It’s eight years since David first made his screen appearance in Moone Boy, so it comes as some surprise that this is his professional stage debut.

“We all seem to be working and gelling well together, which is very exciting,” David tells. “They are an absolutely brilliant bunch and the play is genuinely a joy to do. I am having a really good time.”

The ‘brilliant bunch’ is just that. Comprising of Venetia Bowe (who is in the latest series of Cold Courage), Eoghan Collins (who appeared in Netflix’s new series Valhalla), Meadhbh Maxwell (fresh from her work on Normal People and Finding Joy) and Chloe O’Reilly (who makes her debut after just graduating from The Lir) the ensemble is a veritable list of ‘ones to watch’ of young Irish actors.

Eoghan Collins as Noel (back) David Rawle as Dan

Although he started in youth theatre in Carrigallen David’s success with Moone Boy set him on a particular course: “I didn’t envision going into theatre. I was probably a bit frightened of it.

“In 2017 I became part of the National Youth Theatre. This is where they pick 16 young people from youth theatres around Ireland. We lived together for five weeks and rehearsed a show and put it on for a week in the Peacock Theatre in Dublin.

“It was the most incredible experience. Not only are you working with people your own age, you also get to experience what it’s like to be in a professional production. That’s what made me fall in love with theatre, and it made me realise I want to pursue acting as a career,” an unusual epiphany for someone with five years experience in a top rating show on Sky TV.

Danti-Dan is presided over by Livin’ Dred Artistic Director, Aaron Monaghan. With film and TV credits in Redemption of a Rogue, Assassin’s Creed, The Foreigner, Love/Hate as well as the accolade of one of the country’s fines stage actors, Monaghan is well apprised of the challenge of transitioning from one medium to the other.

“His passion for the stage comes through in everything he does,” David says. “He has an innate understanding of how to get ‘theatrical reality’. He’s very open with sharing his experience and helps us make what we do come to life.

“When you have a director who is an established actor it means there is a certain shared vocabulary. He knows what to say to get what he wants, because he has been on the other side himself,” the actor explains.

Period piece

Danti-Dan takes place in the middle of nowhere outside Cork city, during the summer of 1970. In it a motley gang hang out on a short stretch of road. Dan is a 14-year-old cowboy, his friends include innocent Dolores and wily Cactus. Hormones are raging, Noel is pinning his hopes and his ticket out of town on his racing dog Naked Lady, while Ber is hoping you can’t get pregnant if you were standing up.

First produced by Rough Magic in 1995 it’s a curious combination of nostalgia and evergreen themes: “From the get-go Aaron want to get across that, for us, this is a period piece. It’s set 50 years ago. It’s about getting into the mindset of people. It is a time before all these pivotal moments in Irish history that got people to think in a different way. It’s a very different, old fashioned Ireland. It has been an interesting and exciting challenge.”

It celebrates life

This is Livin’ Dred’s first opportunity to flex their artistic muscle since the reopening of theatres. Director Aaron says the pent up energy has a suitable outlet in Danti Dan: “There has been a backlog of work that needed to get done. Everything has been on hold. It feels like this is the right type of play to do.

“It’s full of young, vibrant, energetic actors. It is really colourful, hilariously funny and is the kind of play that genuinely appeals to all audiences. It celebrates life; it celebrates Ireland’s vitality, our energy and sense of humour. I think we all need a laugh at this stage of the pandemic and I think we have a very big colourful production here.

“Audiences are sick of seeing things on screens, we want to see a big cast of actors. I really can’t wait to get the cast on stage in front of an audience,” the director enthuses.

The observation that the play is set over a half a century ago comes as a bit of a shock to someone in their 50s. Ireland of the 1970s was very different, but still within the living memory of many theatre goers.

The multi-ward-winning Cavan actor says he used the description of a ‘period piece’ as a tool for his cast.

“These actors are very young. They are literally just out of training, so for them it is a period piece. There are references in the play that I think everyone should know, but they don’t because they are from a different generation. It’s really not a period piece, it’s a modern play with modern themes, but it does speak a lot about our recent past. It also speaks about who we are; about how women are treated, about how men are treated. It reflects on the huge changes that have taken place in the last 20 years since it was written and first performed.”

Aaron is looking forward to the first outing in front of a live audience.

“We start, as we always do, opening in our home in Cavan, before we unleash this incredible play and cast on the rest of the country. I am particularly thrilled to have Livin’ Dred perform in the newly-refurbished, and newly-opened Townhall Theatre, and I’m deeply grateful to the theatre and to The Ramor for partnering with Livin’ Dred to bring this hilarious and powerful play to audiences.”

Danti-Dan will be staged in the Town Hall Cavan tonight, Thursday November 4 cost €18 or €16 concession.

Shows start 8pm.

For booking contact: 049 4380494 or at