THE INIMITABLE Eamonn Morrissey makes a welcome return to the Town Hall next week with his classic one-man show The Brother, based on the writings of Flann O’Brien.
During a break in rehearsals for Fair City, in which he currently features, he took time out to discuss the show beginning with his initial introduction to O’Brien’s work.
“I used to read the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ column when it came out each week though to be honest at that time it was probably past its best,” Morrissey says. “My first real introduction to Flann O’Brien would be when I went over to London and someone happened to lend me At Swim Two Birds, which was still out of print at the time.
“I read it over the weekend and absolutely loved it. I remember going back to Dublin and I had the temerity to approach Flann O’Brien in his local, Neary’s, to say how much I had liked the book and he ate the face off me, saying only a puerile mind would be interested in such rubbish!”
Despite this tongue-lashing, Morrissey’s enthusiasm for O’Brien’s writing remained undaunted and he began performing extracts from his work at post-show parties and the like. Friends started suggesting he should do a whole show based on the material and eventually he set out to do just that.
“It took a while to pull it all together,” he recalls. “I approached O’Brien’s widow and she invited me round to the house where she had stored a huge amount of press clippings of everything Flann had published so I spent ages sifting through all of those.”
Morrissey first performed The Brother in 1974 and he has revived it at regular intervals ever since with its popularity remaining undiminished by changing trends in society.
“People still respond to it,” he says. “Even though the pub culture of today is very different to of the 1940s which O’Brien depicts, that doesn’t matter because ultimately the show isn’t about that, the pub is just a device that he hangs all this wonderful, inventive, lunatic writing on. And the appeal of the comedy is timeless and universal.”
O’Brien also had a rare gift for fusing comedy and horror on occasion, as he displayed in The Third Policeman and the ghoulish story Two in One about a taxidermist who ends up being tried for his own murder which Morrissey features in his show.
“That is a truly terrifying piece of writing,” he declares. “In it you find this motif of a character who is unsure of his own identity and that’s something which recurs through a lot of O’Brien’s work and it may be something which was true of him as a man also.”
The Brother is at the Town Hall for two nights only on Tuesday June 16 and Wednesday 17 at 8pm. Tickets are €20/16 from 091 - 569777.