The Big Fellow
By: Declan Gorman (Based on Frank O'Connor's biography of Michael Collins)
“If there were no wild boys, there would be no great men,” Frank O'Connor's mother wrote to him in 1922, when he was a prisoner-of-war at Gormanston camp. This original play, based on O'Connor's writings, captures the life and times of the wildest boy of them all, Michael Collins, as he graduates from masterminding the most dare-devil raids, prison breaks and escapades of the War of Independence to commanding the official army of a newly-formed state. Greatness did indeed follow Collins but so too did division, torment and tragedy.
No dull history lesson, “The Big Fellow” is an imaginative and entertaining piece of non-stop, high-energy theatre, from the action-packed opening images to the gripping conclusion. It is driven by a powerful score composed by Colin Blakey (ex-Waterboys) and Cillian McNamara's evocative lighting. Gerard Adlum and Cillian O Gairbhi give outstanding performances, bringing to vivid life a nation embroiled in the excitement and turmoil of formation. But there is a twist. Frank O'Connor fought against Collins' side in the Civil War. So why did he divert from a glittering literary career just a few years later to write a book in praise of his dead enemy?
“A combination of physical energy and historical passion ... totally engaging.”
Emer O’Kelly, Sunday Independent
“Insightful, inspiring and profoundly moving... A wonderful use of humour is what differentiates Gorman’s drama from other historical narratives.” Orla O’Dea, Westmeath Examiner
Script developed with support from The Abbey Theatre literary department
Co-produced with Drogheda Arts Festival 2016, financially supported by Create Louth
Contains strong language and simulated gunfire. Not recommended for children under 13 years.