The Kings of the Kilburn High Road at Gaiety Theatre

Jimmy Murphy’s critically acclaimed play The Kings of the Kilburn High Road comes to the Gaiety Theatre from 1 to 12 November. The play has been a huge success in New York and London, as well as being adapted into an Irish language film, Kings, in 2006 directed by Tom Collins and was selected as Ireland’s official entry for the 2008 Academy Awards for best foreign language film. Now Livin’ Dred Theatre Company are bringing it back to the Irish stage, directed by Padraic McIntyre and starring Phelim Drew, Malcolm Adams, Arthur Riordan, Seamus O’Rourke and Charlie Bonner.

The Kings of the Kilburn High Road tells the story of a group of men who left Ireland in the 1970s to try and earn their fortunes in England. Each of the group only intended to stay a little while but after 25 years of working in manual labour jobs in London, the first of the group to actually make it home does so in a coffin. This leads the rest of the group to meet up in a pub on the Kilburn High Road for an informal wake for their departed friend. They drink to the memory of their lost friend but it’s not long before old secrets are revealed and lies are uncovered as the men journey through their lives and dream of a place in a new Ireland.

Murphy’s play traverses the delicate line between comedy and tragedy and is sure to strike a chord with people who have had to move abroad for economic reasons. A talented writer, Murphy has long been established on the Irish theatrical scene. His first play, Brothers of the Bush, opened at the Peacock Theatre in 1993 as part of that year’s Dublin Theatre Festival. It would go on to win the Best New Irish Play Award and the 1994 Stewart Parker Trust Award. His other works include; A Picture of Paradise, The Museli Belt  and The Kiss and What’s Left of the Flag, which was nominated for Best New Play at the Irish Times Theatre Awards.

This production of The Kings of the Kilburn High Road finds itself in the incredibly capable and experienced directorial hands of Padraic McIntyre. He is Artistic Director of Livin’ Dred Theatre Company and has directed their first fifteen productions. These include The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Belfry, (both of which were nominated for Irish Times Theatre Awards) The Tale of the Blue Eyed Cat, The Snow Child and The Little Dance Girl, which he wrote for the company. In 2007 he directed The Tinker’s Curse by Michael Harding which was nominated for an Irish Times Theatre Award for Best New Play and Conversations on a Homecoming, which was nominated for The Judges Special Award.  He has also directed The Children of Lir; Shoot the Crow, A Christmas Carol and The Good Father, There Came a Gypsy Riding, Observe The Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme both by Frank McGuiness, Ride On by Seamus O’Rourke and The Bridge Below the Town by Pat McCabe with whom he has developed a close working relationship. Livin Dred/NOMAD’s production of The Dead School by Pat McCabe was regarded as one of the theatrical highlights of 2008 and was nominated for three Irish Times Theatre Awards including Best Production. McIntyre is also a prolific actor and has appeared in Winter Came Down (Quare Hawks Theatre Company) Howie the Rookie (Library Theatre, Manchester), Shagnasty & Duck (Guilded Balloon, Edinburgh) Loves Labours Lost (English Touring Theatre, National Tour) and Big Maggie (New Vic Theatre), as well as the feature film The Ballad of Honky McSwaine and the hit RTE television series Love/Hate.

The talented cast includes Phelim Drew (Once, My Left Foot, Playboy of the Western World), Malcolm Adams (Alone It Stands, Stones In His Pockets), Arthur Riordan (Writer of The Train & Rap Eire with Des Bishop), Seamus O’Rourke (Ride On!, Beauty Queen of Leenane) and Charlie Bonner (Dancing at Lughnasa, RTE’s Rebellion).

This incredible group of actors will bring to life a story that will be familiar to so many who have experienced similar stories of immigration. At times poignant but also amusing, The Kings of the Kilburn High Road is an experience not to be missed this month.

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