Next week sees the start of previews before the world premiere in Galway of The Chief — Jimmy Murphy's a new play that reveals the man behind the iconic figure of Michael Collins. Murphy has written some of the poignant Irish drama of the past few decades and there is great anticipation at how he is to treat the Collins story.
Marking the centenary of Collins’ death in August 1922, The Chief explores his intimate relationship with Kitty Kiernan, his dream for a united Ireland, and his guilt at taking arms against former comrades. Decadent Theatre Company’s Andrew Flynn directs a cast of six in a drama that speaks directly to the Ireland of today.
The Chief opens in Town Hall Theatre Galway on Monday 12 September, following previews on 8, 9 and 10 September, and runs until Saturday 17. The show’s next stop is Westport Town Hall Theatre where it plays for one night only, on Tuesday 20 September. Finally, it travels to Backstage Theatre in Kitty Kiernan’s home county of Longford from Thursday 22 to Saturday 24 September.
Ryan Donaldson has been cast as Michael Collins while Maeve Fitzgerald returns for her seventh role with Decadent Theatre Company, this time playing Kitty Kiernan.
“When I was asked to write a play about Michael Collins there were a number of things about the last months of his life that intrigued me,” says Dublin playwright Jimmy Murphy. “Writing The Chief has revealed contradictions and complexities about the man that have left me less intrigued and more astonished.
“The closer you look at the things that were hiding in plain sight in the weeks coming up to Collins’ death, the more revealing they are as to what exactly happened, why and how, on that fateful day.”
Murphy has a string of hits to his name that include Brothers of the Brush, The Kings of the Kilburn High Road and The Hen Night Epiphany which receives its Canadian premiere in October. In 2007 Kings was adapted into an IFTA-winning feature film. Other works include Of This Brave Time which was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre to commemorate the 1916 Rising, The Seamster's Daughter and the acclaimed Dublin gangland drama, Idlewild. His most recent play, The Cartographer's Pen, premiered at the Ramor Theatre in May of this year. He was elected to Aosdána in 2004.
Andrew Flynn has been Artistic Director of Decadent Theatre Company since 2000. One of Ireland’s busiest directors, his most recent production was the stage adaptation of Donal Ryan’s From a Low and Quiet Sea which ran during the Galway International Arts Festival in July 2022. The Sunday Independent said, “It is not very often that four demanding and intense roles come together with absolute perfection, but they do in this production.”
Also in 2022, he directed a national tour of David Harrower’s Blackbird which travelled to eleven venues from April to June. The Irish Times said, “Andrew Flynn brings an assured and confident touch to thrilling, thought-provoking material…tense and riveting.” While the Sunday Independent said, “Andrew Flynn has mounted a splendid production with sustained high-octane performances from Maeve Fitzgerald and Declan Conlon.”
Flynn’s other recent directorial work includes The Lonesome West; Eden; A Love Like That; The Thing About December; Pumpgirl; Port Authority; The Mai; A Skull in Connemara; Someone Who'll Watch Over Me; Wit; and The Cripple of Inishmaan for Gaiety Productions.
Tickets at tht.ie or from box office at 091 569777.