Pat Kinevane’s thrilling theatrical threesome

Writer/actor Pat Kinevane visits the Town Hall next week with a triple-bill of his hugely acclaimed, award-winning solo shows, Silent, Underneath, and Forgotten.

Presented by Fishamble Theatre Company, the plays have toured all over the world, seeing Kinevane scoop an Olivier Award in London, a Fringe First in Edinburgh and be hailed as “passionate” and “stunning” in New York by revered critic Ben Brantley.

Silent portrays a homeless man, McGoldrig, who has lost everything including his mind and revisits his past through the romantic world of Rudolph Valentino. Underneath is a blackly comic and vivid tale of a life lived in secret and a testament to the people who live on the fringes, while Forgotten is a unique collage of Kabuki dance and Irish storytelling featuring Kinevane’s captivating portrayal of four elderly characters, living in retirement homes and care facilities around Ireland.

All three plays are directed by Jim Culleton, whose working relationship with Kinevane goes back over 20 years. “I first worked with Pat in 1993, directing him in Colin Teevan’s play Buffalo Bill Has Gone to Alaska,” Culleton recalls. “He was a fantastic actor so I was certainly keen to work with him again and to build a relationship with him. Then, around 1996, he came to us with an idea for a play that he wanted to write –he was not going to be in it himself – which was The Nun’s Wood. It was loosely inspired by Pat’s teenage years growing up in Cobh. It was really fantastic, full of passion and energy, fun and drama. It showed that he was just as good a playwright as he was an actor. Fishamble produced that and his next play, The Plains of Enna, then 10 years ago, we did the first of his solo shows, Forgotten.”

In a previous interview with this paper, Kinevane credited Jim Culleton with giving him the initial encouragement to write. “That is very generous of him,” Culleton says with a laugh. “I do remember us chatting about his interest in plays and in writing something, and he showing it to me to see what I thought. I remember reading it and just being blown away by its vivid theatrical imagination, which is something that he has as both an actor and a writer. In these three shows, Silent, Forgotten, and Underneath you get a full expression of that theatrical imagination at work.

“Pat has a style or approach for each play visually and in terms of movement,” Culleton continues. “With Forgotten he draws on the Japanese theatre style of kabuki. The idea for that came from a line in the play where he talks about the difference in how old people are treated in western civilisation and in a country like Japan where elders are revered. With Silent the title refers to a number of things; it is inspired by silent movies and its form is very much inspired by that but it is also relating to the issues that we are silent about, like homelessness and depression and things people would rather not think about. Then for Underneath the inspiration visually is that a woman is murdered and buried and she is like an Egyptian goddess in her tomb, so there is all this gold and pharaoh imagery in that. With their different imageries we sometimes refer to the plays as the ‘red play’, ‘the silver play’ and ‘the gold play’, they have their own colour schemes and there is a style behind each one which informs each one in the way we produce it.”

While the plays were not initially conceived as a trilogy, I ask Culleton do any common strands emerge in seeing them done as a group? “When you see them being performed together, even though they are very different, people do say they are all about characters on the margins of society, characters who have been forgotten about,” he replies. “The plays are a way of celebrating the lives of ordinary people who in our society are normally shoved aside or forgotten about; that is certainly a theme that comes through all of them. They are also all very visual and very funny as well. At the same time they don’t shy away from dealing with dark issues.”

The three plays are in the Town Hall on consecutive nights, at 8pm; Silent on Wednesday August 24, Underneath on Thursday August 25, and Forgotten on Friday August 26.

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