THE MICK LALLY (Druid ) Theatre is to host the acclaimed new play, After Sarah Miles, written and directed by Michael Hilliard Mulcahy and performed by Don Wycherley, of Bachelor’s Walk fame.
The play comes to Galway as part of a national tour following a hugely successful debut run in Dublin last year where it met rave reviews. The Sunday Times called it “compelling, tender and lots of fun”, while The Sunday Independent said it was “a lilting wonder...pure art perfection”.
The play is set in Kerry and its title alludes to the film Ryan’s Daughter, in which Sarah Miles starred. Don Wycherley takes up the story.
“It’s about a Dingle fisherman called Bobeen who’s reminiscing on his life and the starting point is when he was an extra on Ryan’s Daughter and encountered Sarah Miles,” he says.
“She was a big influence on him as a young teen, he was 14 when he was in the film and basically fancied the arse off her! He ends up calling his boat Sarah. The story goes on from there and it’s a wonderful tale of love and loss and laughter.
“People are really moved by it. I thought at first it might just be a south of Ireland thing but I got an email yesterday from an American woman who saw it in Dingle and absolutely loved it. Her name is Amanda McBroom and she is the writer of Bette Midler’s song ‘The Rose’.”
Wycherley is speaking ahead of doing the play in his native Skibbereen, his first time to perform professionally in his hometown.
“It’s fantastic to be playing in Skibbereen,” he enthuses. “I haven’t played the Town Hall here since I was 16 in a school play and doing a sketch of Cha and Mia, the two characters from Hall’s Pictorial Weekly - that was about 30 years ago.”
Wycherley initially left home to train as a teacher but soon after embarking on that career the lure of theatre re-asserted itself.
“I was working at a school in Finglas and the principal gave me the job of doing the Christmas show,” he recalls. “Through that I re-discovered my love of acting and drama and a light-bulb went off in my head and I applied to the Gaiety School of Acting and dropped out of the teaching.
“I haven’t walked away entirely from teaching, the odd time when acting jobs are scarce I’ll do a teaching stint. It’s a great thing to have and I enjoy it as much if not more now than when I was in my twenties. I think I’m better at it now having raised three kids of my own.”
Returning to After Sarah Miles, he describes the character of Bobeen.
“He is a quintessential Dingle fisherman,” he says. “He drinks a lot, he’s had a disastrous marriage, he comments on the hippies that come into Dingle, he comments on most things. He has a great friend, Tom Bawn. A lot of people, especially women, have said that initially they hated him, that you think he’s just this old chauvinistic so-and-so and he does have, shall we say, a certain Irish man’s perspective on most things. But by the end of it you’re in his corner and it turns around.”
Wycherley describes what it has been like working with writer/director Michael Hilliard Mulcahy.
“Michael initially contacted me via the internet saying he had a script he would love me to look at,” he says. “When I read it I was blown away. As an actor you can only go on your gut feelings, I did that with Eugene O’Brien’s Eden, which became a huge hit, and I had the same kind of instinct about this play. It was a very collaborative experience working with Michael, we were both hugely invested in the play. It was very enjoyable, the whole process. We each knew what we wanted and we came together and hopefully got what everyone in the audience wants.”
How did Wycherley find the challenge of doing a one-man show?
“It is a bit daunting,” he admits. “You’re on your own, there’s no-one to throw you a line if you drop one of yours. And anything can happen, a phone going off, someone fainting, you just have to drive through and be very focused and stay with the story. To me it’s the purest form of theatre, I think this is the way the first acting began, one person getting up and telling a story. Bobeen tells his story and thankfully people are hugely interested in it and want to hear what happens him.”
After Sarah Miles runs at the Mick Lally (Druid ) Theatre from Monday May 19 to Thursday 22 at 8pm. Tickets are €15/12. Booking is through the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie