Brendan at the Chelsea…
First the article in the Times supplement, then the Radio 4 interview with Janet Behan, capped by years of hearing of and about Brendan Behan left me with little choice – I had to go and see this at The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith last week. Adrian Dunbar was the main man so I expected a queue.
There wasn’t one. The auditorium was only partially occupied and I felt bad for the cast. The play covered Behan’s last few weeks in the Chelsea Hotel in NY and charted his fall off the wagon into the grave. It should have been sombre but it wasn’t. The language was expletive, profane even, but the humour, the wit, the sheer joy of it made you laugh when you should have been crying.
And Adrian Dunbar was transformed. Brilliant. I wrote the cast a note the next day saying they should have had a bigger audience – not to let the number that attended on the Wed night make them lose heart. If it comes on again, anywhere, go see it.
Honestly. Tie the heartstrings tight first and leave the expletive filter at home.