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Patrick Kavanagh: A Life – Bewley’s Cafe Theatre – Review

Patrick Kavanagh - A Life

Patrick Kavanagh: A Life created and performed by PJ Brady

Patrick Kavanagh (1904 – 1967) made Monaghan, its stony grey soil and inhabitants, familiar to many who never glimpsed it or had any desire to do so. He made his adult life around the canal near Baggot St.Bridge in Dublin and various well known hostelries. He was a serious drinker of whiskey and in later years a curmudgeon. However, first and foremost he was a writer and a poet with a unique voice. Patrick Kavanagh, for PJ Brady, is a guiding light. In “Patrick Kavanagh: A Life” he uses Kavanagh’s own words from the cradle to the point in his life, about 1955, when he and his talent to an extent become more aligned than they had been in his first half century.

The set consists of a cramped flat in Ballsbridge with a small table covered with telephone, empty bottles, mouldy bread and other bits of detritus, in the back left hand corner a small pyramid of cans and in the front left an empty fruit crate upon which Brady sometimes sits. The play starts with the landlord unseen knocking on the door of the flat vainly attempting to collect rent. It places Kavanagh in his familiar locale of financial impecuniosity…clinging on. It is against that leitmotif Brady skilfully brings Patrick Kavanagh to life from his beginning in a leaky cottage in Mucker. From his infancy he was observant and these observations are used by Brady with skill. He varies the subject matter, the pace, introduces other persons usually of higher social standing including the redoubtable Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid and leaves them all including the Archbishop trailing in his wake. But it is the poet Kavanagh who Brady reveals amongst the failings and disappointments of Kavanagh’s daily life.

Brady has created this piece out of his great love for Kavanagh’s written work. But it is not a panegyric. The irascible and unsociable Kavanagh is exposed as the thoughtful genius wordsmith that he was. “Patrick Kavanagh: A life” is an excellent way to spend a lunchtime and with luck new devotees of Kavanagh will be created.

Review by Frank L

Patrick Kavanagh: A Life – October 13 – November 01, 2014 – Time: 1pm (doors at 12.50pm)

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Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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