Pat Kinevane shines a light on ‘unjustly’ estranged fathers in new play Before

Theatrical force of nature is back with his latest play at the Belltable

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Before: Pat Kinevane is back at the Belltable with his latest play

Before: Pat Kinevane is back at the Belltable with his latest play

PAT Kinevane likes a challenge. Embraces it. While others complain about hard work, he seeks it out.

The theatrical force of nature, from Cork but “half Limerick”, is back with a new play, Before, the latest instalment of his one-man stage crusades, examining subjects on the fringes of society, the underdog he enthusiastically champions.

Where the award-winning playwright and actor’s previous plays looked at old age, the homeless and the disfigured - in Before, he takes a heartbreaking and blackly comic look at estranged dads. One, in particular, Pontius, who happens to be in Clery’s on the day it is due to close to meet the daughter he hasn’t seen in 17 years.

Kinevane, who is again working with serial collaborators Jim Culleton and Fishamble, has once more poured real life into his work.

“I really wanted to highlight the whole area of estranged fathers, which isn’t really talked about that much and I know a lot of people that are in that situation - unjustly. I think there are plenty of cases where they are justly kept away from their children, because they are mistreating them or frightening them or whatever; but these are good men. I wanted to write about it for a long, long, long time - and it is very funny as well,” he adds, eager to ensure the prospective audience might think Before is overly sombre.

“I love laughter, it is a natural part of my scaffolding. As well as keeping the audience entertained, I have to keep myself entertained, I couldn’t bear to be doing a black piece from beginning to end. I don’t think I could sustain it, to be honest with you. And there is nothing better than watching people laughing,” he adds.

Before fits seamlessly in with Kinevane’s previous solo works, Forgotten, Silent and Underneath, but there is no grand, thematic plan, Pat says, calling it “accidental. I didn’t set out that way”.

“I accidentally gravitate toward misfortune - my nature is soft. I was always like that, even as a kid, I was always affected by misfortune, seeing it, I would always cry. I gravitate towards that, but as a grown man now, I feel it is my responsibility, especially if you have a platform, to highlight that, and in any way, if you could shine a light and help people’s understanding of that.”

Before is a new play with “much music”, composed by the “amazing” Denis Clohessy, while Limerick’s Tara Doolan has done the lighting design.

“There is lots of music in it. I had a kind of a dream in my head - I wrote the melodies with the amazing Denis Clohessy, but then he went off and did the rest, all the composition, really beautiful, a deep treasure of composition. He is an amazing man.

“And then we had a dream that we would get an orchestra to play a soundtrack and the RTE Concert Orchestra came on board and on probably the best day of my life, they recorded it for us in studio one - and it was beautiful. It sounds...it is just amazing to have the sound of a live orchestra in the theatre, and I know it will sound amazing in the Belltable, because they have a fantastic sound system there.”

Kinevane is a grafter, from a self-professed “working class background”, whose father hails from Adare. He has that natural easy nature, but it cloaks a steely nature within, brought to the fore through his characters on stage.

“I promised myself 13 years ago when I started working solo that I would never give out about it, and I haven’t - I love it and I am very privileged to be in the position I am, to be able to work and to be healthy and strong. For people to come and respond to it, it is a real blessing and I never take it for granted; everyone that comes in, I am so grateful for it.

“I would have to hold the challenge up to myself. Honestly, this is a big challenge - the others are too - but in the sense that I am getting older, it is full on, which is ok as it keeps me pushing myself. There will be a time when I won’t be able to move and I am going to keep doing it as long as I am allowed to.”

- Before is in the Belltable on December 5 and 6. See www.limetreetheatre.ie for more.