night smiles for Donleavy"
by Edward Power
A big turnout for the opening night of Ronan Wilmot's energetic revival of the controversial J.P. Donleavy play, The Ginger Man - likened to "rancid meat" by an Irish Times critic on its stormy 1959 debut - at the New Theatre in Temple Bar on Tuesday night.
The author himself made the premiere and at the after-show bash confessed to being "dumbfounded" by the intensity of the playing, proclaiming leading man David Murray the equal of the original Sebastian Dangerfield, Richard Harris. His obvious good humour was doubtless stoked by confirmation that filming of his short story, The Onion Eaters, for British TV begins shortly. The production is to star Martin Clunes.
Sebastian Dangerfield was famously modeled on Donleavy's Trinity College contemporary, Gainor Crist. Among the other members of the Donleavy set who made it to Temple Bar on Tuesday night were writer Marie Lousie Colbert and sculptor turned novelist Desmond McNamara. They were joined by Ulick O'Conner and actress turned writer Ena May.
Actress Mary McEvoy, playing Miss Lily Frost, was there, deep in debate with Ronan Wilmot who, God willing, plans to take The Ginger Man on the road next autumn. Dan Crawford of Kingshead Theatre, Islington, London, is particularly keen to have the show over. David Wilmot, Ronan's son, was also about, all smiles after the news that he has landed the plum role of Gerry Divine in Noel Pearson's much anticipated production of Juno and the Paycheck in the Gaiety Theatre, directed by Tony winner Garry Hynes, opening in September.