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The Nomadic Theatre Company brought a delightful touch of Brendan Behan and Patrick Kavanagh to Garter Lane last weekend. While the two-hander script by Ken McElroy seemed structured for a tourist audience or a foreign festival, it delighted an appreciative audience. If we were waiting for our national theatre to bring us a Behan play we might still be cooling our porridge.

Quote: "I felt I had been touched by greatness and honesty of creative feeling...Here's to more of the same." - Munster ExpressInterspersed with songs from the fifties Oliver Moore created a broth of a boyo in Behan. His pleasant vocal work recreated the popular playwright with half the drunks of Dublin hanging out of his arse...Ken McElroy played Kavanagh and in both actors cases the physical resemblances made up for the indifferent attempts at accents. McElroy gave us glimpses of a darker heart-scalding reprobate yet in his poetic musings there was that clear childhood country of wonder at pulse of the world.

By the end of the evening I was in thrall of these two actors for their recreation of the misery and magic of a dear old dirty Dublin, a culchie away from literary fame and doomed to a future of tourist pub-crawls. When Behan stood in a pool of light to be joined by Kavanagh for a poignant, The Parting Glass, I felt I had been touched by greatness and honesty of creative feeling.

Here’s to more of the same.

This show is like Big Brother, watching 'real life' with a voyeuristic thrill from seeing apparent authenticity. Two Irishmen, drunk on Guinness, reminiscing over old times, better times, singing and trying to avoid getting thrown out of a pub. It's hard to work out what the message of this play is. You get the sense that life won't change for these men; there's none of the conflict and resolve normally executed in theatre. It's like listening to an elderly relative talking about the war; it's fascinating, but you're constantly waiting to work out why they're telling you. And that's exactly the point - they're telling you because this is what they have. This is what they are. And that's it.

'Portrayal of Behan simply brilliant'
Queen's drama studies-trained Dubliner Oliver Moore was born to play, if not to be, a reincarnation of broth of a boy Brendan Behan.Quote: "...this is a warm and charming essay in literary 'Oirshery'" - The Newsletter

Sweaty flesh bulging from open-to-the-waist shirt, he's Brendan to the barroom born. But (the play's) author/actor/director Ken McElroy has a harder job, balancing the night's doings as Moore's foil, playing a savagely cantankerous and acerbic Monaghan poet Patrick Kavanagh.

This is a rewrite of The Rare Oul' Times (4 man play) conceit of an imaginery encounter between these two larger than life literary folk, either of which could clear customers from a bar in minutes before being turfed out themselves.

It is set in the 1950's, in the Dublin literary pub, The Bailey.

The Behan character is easier to evoke given Oliver's physical similarity and the ease with which it is natural to intriduce a well-sung Dublin ballad into nearly two hours of bar banter...This is a warm and charming essay in literary 'Oirshery'.