As audiences filled the chairs in an upstairs room of The Fly in the Loaf pub, it is evident that theatre can be present anywhere, and the intimate setting could not have been more fitting for the play. In this cosy room, dim with tea lights settings the mood, audiences encountered I, Kavanagh, a play which tells the life story of Irish poet and novelist, Patrick Kavanagh.
Entering the stage space with a slow, purposeful walk, Kavanagh makes himself at home, removing his jacket and hanging it up, as well as unpacking his small briefcase to reveal a book, papers and a trusted bottle of whiskey which he proceeds to drink through the course of the night.
He begins to narrate his own life, recalling his childhood days and the first ballads he wrote about football whilst at school. This narrative carries on throughout, sometimes directly drawing upon Kavanagh’s official biography by Antoinette Quinn, and seamlessly intertwining with direct quotation from Kavanagh’s poems and novels. Throughout, it is easy to get lost in the harmonious sounds of language created by Kavanagh’s poetry being spoken aloud.
Kavanagh is portrayed to be a passionate man, despite being a poor poet living in Dublin. With references to his literary predecessors, such as Swift, Yeats and Joyce, it is clear to see how Kavanagh is influenced by the ideas that had been left for him to inherit. The excitement when he decided to start up his own paper reporting on the issues that are most important to his country displays patriotism and a great love for the people of his company.
With occasional of mellow singing, witty puns and explosive drunken outbursts, McGee holds his audiences attention spectacularly, taking them along on a journey of highs and lows that are to be found in Kavanagh’s life. Audiences were enthralled throughout – a fantastic and sustained effort from McGee in this unique and intriguing one man performance.