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Wednesday 18 October 2017

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ONE OF IRELAND'S MOST CELEBRATED POETS... IN SIXTY MINUTES

PATRICK KAVANAGH: A LIFE

An irate landlord is banging on Patrick Kavanagh's door. The starving poet is three months behind on his rent, and Kavanagh is in no rush to answer the call. In fact, he's hiding behind a table, dishevelled, undressed and in desperate need of a good meal.

Few things annoy him more than being turned down by his publishers, and one of them is this decrepit old flat which he allowed Brendan Behan to paint (bad move, says Kavanagh).

He's also struggling to put words to paper, ringing his magical bell and sitting there, staring intently at the typewriter. Perhaps if he just cleared away a few things, he'd get some work done, but we trust that those whiskey bottles and breadcrumbs give the place a more 'authentic' feel.

Indeed, creator, performer and Kavanagh enthusiast, PJ Brady, is striving for authenticity here, and it has to be said, Brady does good Kavanagh.

This is supposed to be the "life and times" of one of Ireland's most famous writers, with excerpts from Kavanagh's autobiography, The Green Fool. Certainly, Brady's greatest achievement is that he gives even the newcomers in the audience a history lesson on the Monaghan man who ended up on Raglan Road in the 1940s.

Sure, the script is a little jumbled. Had Brady allowed his one-man show to stretch further than the allotted 60 minutes, we might have learned a little more about Kavanagh's childhood.

Things might have been more focused, too.

CURMUDGEON

As it stands, A Life takes a look at the disgruntled artist who fought off illness, was turned down by Macmillan's (it was never the writing that troubled Kavanagh, just the publishing) and, at one stage, cooked a duck he found caught in a fence at the park. It's a reasonably engaging piece. Brady's Kavanagh might act the fool, but he is an envious old curmudgeon; a talented wordsmith whose moment in the sun arrived way too late in life. That isn't to say that Brady's colourful presentation will bring you down.

In fact, that detailed story of a romantic conquest gone wrong (the lonely bachelor brought a woman back to the flat one Christmas Eve, only to be interrupted by a member of the clergy) is rather amusing. That's the thing - A Life can be very funny at times.

And so it should be. These are the stories that helped shape one of our most celebrated writers, brought to us by a skilful storyteller and impersonator. Worth a look.

Running until November 1 hhhii

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