The revival of The Quare Fellow marks the 50th anniversary of the first production in Dublin. Behan’s play opened at the Pike Theatre, Dublin, in 1954 but the production at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East two years later brought him a much wider reputation, significantly assisted by a drunken interview on BBC television. The play, set in an Irish prison, is based on Behan’s own experience of prison – at the age of just 16 he spent 18 months in Borstal for carrying explosives for the IRA and was arrested again in 1942 for shooting at a policeman – he was sentenced to 14 years but was released after four as part of a general amnesty.

Kathy Burke is well-known as a comedienne and actress – she was a regular in Harry Enfield’s TV show and in Gimme Gimme Gimme, and has appeared in films such as Nil By Mouth and This Year’s Love – but she has now also directed a string of successful plays. These include Kosher Harry at the Royal Court and Betty in the West End last July.

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