A pint of plain is your only man….and Eamon Morrissey is the only man to represent the humour of Flann O’Brien/Myles na Gopaleen/Brian O’Nolan.* I got a nice little surprise yesterday when I was presented with a ticket for Ten 42 and Eamon Morrissey’s one man show The Brother. Inspired by, shall we call him for clarity sake, O’Nolan’s variety of fictional and satirical works, The Brother is a well gelled trip through the writer’s work and a must for any O’Nolan fan. The piece contains, from what I could identify, sketches from the Cruiskeen Lawn column (Irish Times), At Swim Two Birds, The Third Policeman and I have a vague idea that the taxidermist story is from The Hard Life – but I’m open to correction on that one!!!!
Playing in Draoicht last night, Morrissey can only but astound you with his sheer resiliance. I don’t know what age the man is, but seriously, if any actor of any age could stay on stage on his own for over an hour and a half without taking any break, talking non-stop, and perform such an entertaining show, culminating in the downing of a pint of Guinness in one go…. he/she deserves all the awards and accolades on offer.
O’Nolan’s work is easily suited to stage performance with wonderful, wry and witty one-liners and real theatrical colour, but Morrissey really puts the cherry on top! It was particularly touching when the audience chimed in with O’Nolan’s Jem Casey character’s recital of A Pint of Plain is Your Only Man , as below:
35 years ago Morrissey first performed this show on the Peacock stage, and he can still perform the show with as much freshness, relevance and humour as I can only imagine he began. I should put my hand up and admit that I’m one of the biggest Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien/Myles na Gopaleen fans, and I was, up until yesterday, extremely excited about Brendan Gleeson’s upcoming cinematic adaptation of At Swim Two Birds, however after last night’s performance, I do wonder how Gleeson is going to better The Brother as a suitable celebration of O’Nolan’s work. You can line up a stellar cast of Ireland’s biggest Hollywood hotshots, but really Morrissey is the ephihane of O’Nolan’s work – he sits proudly in the set of the old Dublin pub, his accent is perfectly pitched with not a hint of “Howya” or “OMG” – just true blue traditional Dublin of the 1950s and 1960s – he is magnificent!
On another related thread, I recently saw Blue Raincoat’s The Third Policeman when it played in the Project and was really impressed by their creativity and originality when adapting the text to stage. I really felt they did something different with the storyline and presented it in a fresh and creative manner – very fitting to the juicy postmodern storyline of O’Brien’s “lost”text. I recently spotted that the same production company are currently staging their adaptation of At Swim Two Birds in Sligo…fingers crossed they’ll bring it to Dublin sooner rather than later!!! In the meantime, we’ll have to satisfy ourselves with this:
A pint of Flann is your only Man!
*To clarify for those “not in the Flann-loving loop”, Brian O’Nolan was the “real person” behind the two pseudonyms of Myles na Gopaleen (of Cruiskeen Lawn and An Beal Bocht fame) and Flann O’Brien (of At Swim Two Birds, The Third Policeman, The Hard Life and The Dalkey Archive fame). Born in 1911, he went to college in UCD, and in between working as a civil servant and regular columnist for the Irish Times, he also published a number of novels which, while they did not enjoy huge success in his lifetime have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. After a lifetime of alcohol abuse, O’Nolan died (sadly and fittingly) on April 1st, 1966.