Drinking in America in Dolan’s Bar

Stephen Ryan's soundscape is integral to the dynamic
Liam O’Brien in this Bogosian
Photo: Pat Brown/ Munster Business

WHAT do you get when you bind Bottom Dog’s Liam O’Brien, American director Patrick J Byrnes and musician Stephen Ryan of Windings for a controversial play by Eric Bogosian?

Explosive material, set in and reflective of the USA today.

O’Brien is on a roll in  his sequence of 12 parts, each a credible facet of the American credo of winners, losers and underbelly. Arts page writes of a show that premiered in Ireland for Bottom Dog Theatre Company here in January.

Then with the Trump-Clinton fallout loud on this side of the Atlantic, and assurance of fine delivery of the dramatis personae, we showed out.

Over three nights in the Belltable “we got a great crowd, over 400 people saw it,” Liam O’Brien confirms. “Through our output over the years, Bottom Dog are on the better side of audience recognition and support”.

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That’s a modest sidestep of his pull in this mix of characters whom he defines with gnarly accents and deft manoeuvre of clothes. Rolling back the months, it emerges that he and director Byrnes (NY) worked all day; the actor then returned to base each night for immersion in the play.

American made, Dublin based director Patrick J Byrnes

‘Drinking in America’ is actually a two-hander with musician Ryan on stage delivering his soundscape and music that scores the dynamic. This is a harsh show and absolutely of the moment although it was written in the ’80s. O’Brien is happy with Bottom Dog’s prescience.

Observers will be aware of the political mindfulness ever searing through their body of work: ‘What Happened Bridgie Cleary’; 4WarPlays; ‘Democracy’ and more. “Since we toured with it first to Kilmallock and Listowel,  Trump has been in office eight months. I think this material takes, and very much so, a shot at Trump and his stances. I think we were timely in this choice of production”. He relishes the intellectual and societal challenges that Eric Bogosian issues.

Clear minded after time out from the exhaustive centrality required, Liam O’Brien remains a fan of the US.

“Yes, I am massively attracted to it. I have toured there a lot, having done more than 20 different venues with ‘The Rat Pack’. That was good for engaging with America’s speech and its cultural output.

“We did 26 venues in the States with Edward Hall’s Propeller theatre [Shakespeare] so I have been fortunate to spend quite a bit of time there which is good for knowing the various dialects and voices you have over there”.

With Belltable unavailable, ‘Drinking in America’ moves to the venue of Bottom Dog’s loved patrons, Mick and Valerie Dolan’s bar on Dock Road. The actor muses a tad on this beer-sozzle show staging in a pub that hosted The Abbey last month. “It’s the right time to bring it there”. He smiles and dons his baseball hat, up for the rigour.

Booking for Upstairs in Dolan’s at www.dolans.ie for September 7, 8 and possibly the 9th for 8pm.