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Interview with Denis Conway from the cast of The Lieutenant of Inishmore

Michael Grandage’s production of Martin McDonagh’s The Lieutenant of Inishmore opens at the Noël Coward Theatre on 4th July, with previews from 23rd June and runs until 8th September 2018. Joining Aidan Turner (Padraic) completing the all Irish cast are Denis Conway (Donny), Will Irvine (Christy), Brian Martin (James), Daryl McCormack (Brendan) Julian Moore-Cook (Joey), Charlie Murphy (Mairead), and Chris Walley (Davey).

Who knocked Mad Padraic’s cat over on a lonely road on the island of Inishmore and was it an accident? He’ll want to know when he gets back from a stint of torture and chip-shop bombing in Northern Ireland: he loves that cat more than life itself.

Denis Conway (who plays Donny) chats with LondonTheatre1.com about the production.

Q: What were your first thoughts when being cast in The Lieutenant of Inishmore?
Denis: My first thoughts were ‘At last I get to do a Martin McDonagh play.’ I have been offered roles in some of Martin’s plays before but was not able to take them for different reasons. I also auditioned for some roles I didn’t get. So I was delighted when Michael Grandage offered me this role.

Q: What is at the heart of the story of The Lieutenant of Inishmore?
Denis: I suppose you could say it is simply a story about the consequences associated with the death of a cat. However, it is also a wry, dark and funny commentary about violence and the pointlessness of it all.

Q: You play the role of Donny – can you tell us about him and how he fits into the storyline?
Denis: Donny is the father of the eponymous ‘hero’ and is a victim of his own casual violence. His son Pádraig the Lieutenant (a member of the INLA, the Irish National Liberation Army), has left the love of his life (his cat) with Donny to be minded. At the beginning of the play the cat turns up dead and all hell breaks loose.

Q: Can you tell us about rehearsals?
Denis: It’s early days yet but we have already had many laughs. Michael Grandage and his team are great to work with. Michael has already gone into fine detail on some of the scenes I am involved in. I like that and enjoy piecing the piece together in minute detail so that when we eventually play it it will be in our bones.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the writing?
Denis: Martin has an uncanny ability to lead an audience in the direction he wants them to go by planting ideas and reminders throughout the text to get the big ‘pay-off’. I also love Martin’s rhythms. He reminds me a lot of Synge. I suppose you could say he is a modern Synge. He captures the language of West Galway and the islands brilliantly. But mostly he makes me laugh out loud.

Q: Why should everyone get along to see The Lieutenant of Inishmore?
Denis: In a world that is inundated with violence and a world that is threatened with impending violence it is good to see something that addresses this issue but that is very very funny. God knows we need a good laugh.


Theatre includes: The Walworth Farce (National Theatre), Penelope (Hampstead Theatre), Wallenstein, King Lear (Chichester Festival Theatre), Translations, The Wild Duck, (Abbey Theatre, Dublin), The Heiress, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Gigli Concert (Best Supporting Actor nomination, Irish Time Theatre Awards 2015), A Streetcar named Desire (Best Supporting Actor nomination, IT Theatre Awards 2013), Glen Garry Glen Ross, The Price, An Enemy of the People (Gate Theatre Dublin), Amadeus, Macbeth, Myrmidons, Tales from Ovid, Making History, Richard II, Richard III (Best Actor Award, IT Theatre Awards 2001), Troilus and Cressida (Ouroboros Theatre Company), The Gigli Concert (Best Actor Award, IT Theatre Awards 2010, Druid Theatre Company), End of Day (Enniskillen Happy Days Festival/Paris/fit up Theatre Festival).

Television includes: Single Handed II, Showbands, The Clinic, On Home Ground , Fair City, Rebel Heart, Quirke, The Truth Commissioner, Yesterday’s Children, Trial of the Century, Hollywood in Éireann, Scúp 1 and 2, The Running Mate.

Film includes: Brooklyn, Garage, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Tiger’s Tail, Alexander, Michael Collins.

Denis was the Artistic Director of Ouroboros Theatre Company for 10 years. He is also a member of the board of the Brian Friel Trust.

The Lieutenant of Inishmore
by Martin McDonagh
23rd June – 8th September 2018
Noël Coward Theatre


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