‘Leo’ hops a train
Fair City’s Dave Duffy on Last Train from Holyhead
By Charlie Mcbride
LAST TRAIN From Holyhead, by Galway-based author Bernard Field, comes to the Town Hall in a new production by Out Of Time Theatre Company, and starring Fair City’s Dave Duffy.
In Last Train From Holyhead, two men discover more than they bargained for as they while away the night on a train to nowhere. With the help of drink, poker, and a beguiling gypsy, they encounter the void within each other’s lives.
Drink, cards, prophecy, comedy, and tragedy pervade this intriguing piece of theatre which examines identity and the way in which the seeds sown in the past have a habit of sprouting unexpectedly, whether we like it or not.
The older of the play’s two male characters is Dave Duffy, instantly recognisable as Fair City stalwart Leo Dowling. Ahead of Last Train From Holyhead heading down the tracks to Galway, Duffy took some time to chat about his career to date and his role in Field’s play. I began by asking him what initially drew him to acting.
“My sister was an actress and she encouraged me to pursue it though music was my first love and I was always involved in that,” Duffy tells me. “I did a few musicals then I got the bug for the stage. When I finished my training at the Abbey my first roles were also in musicals, at the Project Arts Centre.
“After that, I went back to music and was off touring with a band in central America for a couple of years. I then moved to London in 1976 and started working more as an actor, though again I was doing musicals including a two year UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, that was a terrific show.”
It was on a brief return visit to Ireland that Duffy landed the role of Leo in Fair City.
“I was back here making a film and an actor friend told me I should have a go at getting a part in Fair City because they were looking for someone like me,” he says. “So I phoned up to enquire about it and the only person who was in the office when I phoned was the executive producer – the exact person I needed to talk to!
“As luck would have it I had met him a few months earlier in London when he had seen me in Heno Magee’s play Hatchet. He asked when I could come and see him, and I said ‘Whenever you like’ and he said ‘Can you come up now?’ and I said ‘I can!’ so I went up and about an hour and a half later he was asking me ‘How would you fancy being a household name in Ireland?’ and I’ve been doing it ever since – this is my 16th year!”
Duffy thoroughly enjoys working on the soap and even happily accepts being accosted by members of the public.
“Everyone calls me Leo when I go out on the street and I’m always getting mobbed,” he declares. “Especially now, when people have their smartphones, I get snapped on a daily basis; it’s a great feeling though, I quite enjoy it.”
He also enjoys doing work on stage when the opportunity arises.
“I really like doing stage work when I get the chance, especially with a play like this where there is only three of us in it,” he says. “We’re onstage the whole time without a break. It’s a wonderful play and it’s a great pleasure to do it.”
So what brought him from Carrigstown to board Field’s Holyhead train?
“You’d never believe it, it was through Facebook!” Duffy replies. “I got a message through Facebook from Blayne Kelly, the director, asking would I be interested in reading the play and I said ‘OK’. He posted the script to me and when I read it I said ‘Wow, what a terrific play!’ I replied to him on Facebook saying I would love to do it and I think he was shocked because he hadn’t expected me to be so enthusiastic.”
The production was first staged last July and has had a great response from critics and audiences alike.
“It’s been absolutely terrific, we’ve had great write-ups and audiences have really loved it,” Duffy enthuses. “It’s very intense and emotional. It deals with a lost child and this person whose life is incomplete and all of a sudden there’s a possibility that they can make good on some terrible mistake that they made earlier in their life. There’s also a gypsy woman in it who adds this supernatural element to it.
“Drink plays a big part in it too, the older man who I play has been drinking all his life to try and deaden this inner pain. He’s a man who has lived and yet who has not lived and all of a sudden this chance to fulfil his life before he dies presents itself. Even though he suffers from depression he is driven and has been successful. He’s like a lot of Irish people who have gone abroad and done well but his life is just not fulfilled and he is drinking himself to death because of this guilt eating away at his soul.”
The cast includes Stephen Gorman and Deirdre Jones. Last Train From Holyhead plays the Town Hall studio from Monday February 25 to Saturday March 2 at 8pm. Tickets are €15/12 concession (Monday tickets are €10).
Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie