Rory takes on fresh challenge as lauded DruidMurphy returns

Arts Week with Judy Murphy –

There are changes afoot when Druid Theatre returns to the Town Hall Theatre next week with its new version of Druid Murphy, which was the major theatrical event of 2012 in Ireland as well as being acclaimed in the UK and the United States when it was performed in both places.

Conversations on a Homecoming and A Whistle in the Dark are returning, while the third – and bleakest – of the three DruidMurphy plays, Famine, will not be performed. After Galway, the production will go on a nationwide tour.

Returning to the company for this tour is Dublin actor Rory Nolan, who he is taking on a new challenge this time out. Rory who played the taciturn, hard-drinking Junior in last year’s production of Conversations on a Homecoming, has changed roles and will now play the flashy auctioneer, Liam in the drama, which is set in a North Galway pub.

Liam was previously played by Aaron Monaghan, who was not available this time, so director Garry Hynes suggested that Rory should take on the part.
The “lazy actor” part of him would have been happy to return to Junior, but once the new challenge was put to him, he wasn’t going to pass it up, he says.

“What an honour to be able to play two roles in one of the great Irish plays – and to do that with Druid,” he says.

Recasting him as Liam and bringing in Stephen Jones to play Junior has changed the whole dynamic of the production, he says. Rory pauses when asked if it’s been difficult to change roles and having considered carefully, responds “yes and no, but more no than yes”.
This is a new production, he explains, and all the actors in the rehearsal room are exploring different aspects of their characters. That changes everything.

“We are starting to re-examine and re-explore the play and this is making it more fun and an adventure for me.”

Several of last year’s cast, including Marie Mullen, Marty Rea and Garret Lombard have returned to Conversations in their original roles, but the dynamic has changed, because of the different casting.

It’s no problem for Rory to watch Stephen taking on the role of Junior – it’s more difficult getting the character of Liam, played so brilliantly by Aaron Monaghan last year, out of his head.

“It’s about making the part my own and letting him live from within,” he says. That challenge is made easier because he and Aaron are very different vocally, while Rory is “a good half-foot taller” than his acting colleague and friend.

“As well, I’m going down routes trying to highlight things about Liam whereas Aaron might have highlighted other things – I’m trying to hear him with my voice.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.