Patrick J Byrnes with Liam O'Brien of Bottom Dog, below Myles Breen with his mother Bridie Pictures: Adrian Butler
BOTTOM Dog theatre company launched its ninth annual programme this week, which will kick off with a play offering a social commentary on rising divisions in the US.
Having tasted success Stateside in 2015 with an award for Bottom Dog founder member Myles Breen in his hit one-man play Language UnBecoming A Lady, the company has cast an eye over the US with its first production of the year in Drinking in America by New York playwright Eric Bogosian.
The play – set in the 1980s, but with contemporary overtones – receives its Irish premiere and will open in the Belltable on February 7, with fellow founder member Liam O’Brien returning to the stage to star in the piece and occupy an impressive 12 roles in the process.
“It is definitely a challenge – I have never done something like this, a one person play, which is how the playwright describes it, more than a performance piece,” the well known actor told the Leader at the launch in No 1 Pery Square this week.
“I am playing 12 different characters, they are all incredibly different, all from a variety of places and regions in America. It is set very much in the 1980s, but part of the reason for doing it was seeing the language that was being used by some of the more unsavoury characters, the vitriol, the aggression towards people from another place or different sexuality – and I thought it just seemed very timely.”
The company, which received a small bursary from the arts office for the play, is working with New York director Patrick J. Byrnes and musician Steve Ryan of windings and Giveamanakick fame, who will provide live music for the piece.
Looking ahead, Bottom Dog will again produce its series of rehearsed readings at No 1 Pery Square, where is has staged 32 such plays since 2009.
The company is also gearing up for a site-specific production of ensemble member John Murphy’s play Smallone, while it also is preparing an Arts Council application for a large production of one of Breen’s plays later in the year.
Bottom Dog said the launch was very much a celebration of what the company has achieved but also "a statement of intent for the future".
Playwright and actor Breen said the civic reception the company received from the council in late 2015 provided "a renewed sense of energy" that encouraged them to keep going.
"We felt that the council, and the citizens they represent, value what we do. That we all want a professional theatre company based in Limerick, and that we in fact need and deserve it. Clearly as we launch this ninth season, we’re inclined to agree,” he added.