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Ardal O'Hanlon (photo: Claes Gellerbrink)

Donmar casts McPherson double

Published March 8, 2013

Brian Cox, Dervla Kirwan, Ardal O’Hanlon (pictured), Ciarán Hinds and Jim Norton will all take to the Donmar Warehouse stage this year as the intimate theatre revives Conor McPherson’s The Weir before giving his latest play The Night Alive its world premiere.

Cox, Kirwan and O’Hanlon will all star in the revival of McPherson’s Olivier Award-winning chilling pub-based tale of men competing to impress the stranger in their midst, alongside Risteárd Cooper and Peter McDonald, when it begins its run on 18 April.

For former Ballykissangel and Goodnight Sweetheart star Kirwan, the production, directed by Donmar Artistic Director Josie Rourke, marks her first return to the venue since she appeared opposite Toby Stephens and Samuel West in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal in 2007.

London regular McDonald also returns to the venue where he previously appeared in Days Of Wine And Roses and A Lie Of The Mind, while Cooper (Juno And The Paycock, National Theatre), Cox (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Bourne Supremacy) and O’Hanlon (Father Ted, My Hero) all perform at the Covent Garden venue for the first time.

O’Hanlon, who is probably best known as a stand up comedian, last performed on the London stage in the Southwark Playhouse’s production of McPherson’s Port Authority, when he said of the writer: “When McPherson keeps it simple I don’t think there’s anyone better. He writes beautifully and lyrically from the heart. It’s really powerful stuff.”

McPherson will direct his own new play, which follows The Weir from 13 June. The Night Alive is the tale of two lost souls struggling their way through life while trying to escape their pasts. When fate throws them together, it offers a glimmer of hope that they could make something more of their lives.

McPherson’s cast have all worked with the director before; Hinds (There Will Be Blood, The Woman In Black, Game Of Thrones) on the Dublin production of The Birds and the Broadway production of The Seafarer, and Norton on the National Theatre and Broadway production of The Seafarer, for which he won both an Olivier and a Tony Award.

They’re joined by Caoilfhionn Dunne (McPherson’s The Veil, National Theatre), Michael McElhatton (The Seafarer, National Theatre and Shining City, Royal Court) and Brian Gleeson, who worked with McPherson on new BBC series Quirke.

The Donmar’s mini McPherson season follows the theatre’s current production of Arthur Wing Pinero’s theatrical tale Trelawny Of The Wells, which runs until 13 April and marks film director Joe Wright’s first professional foray into theatre.

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