by Paul Murphy
If you were searching around for a suitable venue to stage the premiere of a play about the inspirational figure of Ireland’s mythological super hero Cu Culainn’s, where would you go? Suitable theatres are not in short supply in Dublin but f you wanted a really special place resonating with the echoes of history, then it has to be the GPO in O’Connell Street.
It was certainly an inspired choice for a new play – Dusk – by one of Ireland’s foremost poets and musicians (Horslips) Eamon Carr from Kells. I don’t know how Red Iron Productions managed to pull this particular venue but they did it in style, locating the stage in shadow of the Cu Chulainn statue in the building’s main foyer. The play is directed by award winning theatre maker Denis Conway and the main sponsor for the premiere was Drogheda solicitor Paddy Goodwin.
The drama is influenced by Agallamh a Seanorach (Collquy of the Elders) and the Japanese Noh tradition and the ghost of Cu Chulainn appears in conversation with a modern young woman named Aisling.
His nemesis, the Morrian, seen in the form of a crow perched on Cu Chulainn’s shoulder in the statue by Oliver Sheppard in the GPO, is also a character in the play. Dusk explores a provocative correlation between Irish myth and contemporary reality as unseen influences, which lie beneath the surface of our everyday world, manifest themselves.
It was wonderfully executed by actors Justine Doswell, Caoimhe Mulcahy an Garret Lombard, with assistance from composer Charles O’Connor.
Eamon Carr has admitted in interviews that he never believed his lay would see the stage. He had worked on it in secret for several years and never planned n it becoming a stage performance. “It was a labour of love and it’s nice to see it come to fruition. It’s very exciting because the content of the lay is very intense”, he said
“I was working on it for over three years. I started doing t for myself. I never expected it to be performed. I was writing it as an exercise for myself. Andy Cummins, who is a producer, saw it and said ‘ I would love to do this’”.
“Aisling” discovers that the ghost has his own problems which might be surprising for someone we regard as the great Irish masculine archtype. “He helps her but she helps him too – its a psychodrama”, Carr says.
This play is a tour de force from a man who, as a child, staged theatre productions for his playmates in the garage of his grandmother Ginnity’s home at Loyd, outside Kells.
Dusk is running at The New Theatre in Dublin until 15th October.