When Cahir met Adrian – on Broadway!

Cahir Maguire who reviewed Adrain Dunbar's performance in the  play "Brendan and the Chelsea"

Cahir Maguire who reviewed Adrain Dunbar’s performance in the play “Brendan and the Chelsea”

HARD to credit it, but a play about the late Brendan Behan presented on Broadway led to a backstage meeting between Cornagrade-born duo, Adrian Dunbar, the director of, ‘Brendan at the Chelsea’, who also played the part of Behan, and Cahir J. Maguire.

Now back home, Cahir kindly submitted a review of the play which the New York critics enjoyed, the New York Times stating, ‘Mr Dunbar’s performance alone makes ‘Brendan at the Chelsea’ a must’.

In his contribution to the Herald, Cahir explained that the play was written by Behan’s niece, Janet Behan, and that the ‘Chelsea’ in the title was the one NY hotel that would allow Behan in as a staying guest.

“As your readers will know, he was a tortured soul. On his second visit to the Big Apple, he was drunk most of the time and he was barred from every other hotel in New York. In fact, he became synonymous for staying in the ‘Chelsea’.”

Cahir, who is only 30, is a lot younger than Dunbar, but he came to know Dunbar, a fellow Cornagradian, and just recently their paths crossed during the Happy Days’ Beckett Festival in Enniskillen.

“He was taking part, and I had a volunteer part, and I got chatting to Adrian after the show. He’s a devoted Beckett fan.”

Cahir himself is a keen supporter of local and national arts and culture initiatives, hence his taking in the Behan play on Broadway.

And, he was suitably impressed with the cast: “This is a fast paced, witty and energised production which catalogues Behan’s second visit to New York. It focuses on his fall from grace and back into the depths of his alcoholism.

“The performances were sensational. The stage was set out as a sparse hotel room, with a bed in one corner opposite a writing desk, but the cast utilised the limited space masterfully, with Dunbar dominating.

“Sometimes, he was arrogantly strutting about, confidently talking to his audience in jest at times whilst lounging over the furniture, unfit to stand and, at other times, writhing on the floor in agony.”

Cahir was particularly impressed with the way Dunbar re-enacted Behan’s use of a Dictaphone when he could no longer hold a pen to write.

“It was a modern way of adding soliquies to the play that more reflected Behan’s fractured and tormented psyche, as well as his words on overdue and pre-paid work he had been commissioned to write.”

Such was Cahir’s positive impression of the play that he recommended readers go along to see it when it comes to Belfast’s Lyric Theatre at the end of the month, 30th October-10th November.

And, yes, he got to meet Adrian Dunbar afterwards.


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