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Interview: Enda Walsh, writer & director of Misterman gives it hard and fast

The New York Times call him 'one of the most fiercely individual voices in the theatre today'. Enda Walsh is a man who tackles gritty subjects. He co-wrote the screenplay of Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen. His latest production, Misterman, unravels the climatic drama of a psychotic loner holed up on the fringes of a quaint Irish town. The Daily Mail (God forbid) compared it to the recent Norway murders - Enda sets that straight. In fact, he airs his views on critics altogether; pays tribute to his English teacher Roddy Doyle, and his good friend Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Breakfast on Pluto, and Inception) who plays Thomas in Misterman. He also treats us to a London anecdote! Misterman is on at the National Theatre, running until 28 May.

RR: It was your English teacher, Roddy Doyle, who inspired you to write. What was it about him that ignited your imagination?
EW:
He had a cabinet at the back of the classroom with the most exciting modern literature - and he had an earring, a Specials badge and red Doctor Martin's. Need I say more?
 
RR: How do you feel about being compared to Samuel Beckett?
EW:
I really don't think we're comparable at all. Apart from the Irishman-writer-thing. My work is far scrappier, less refined and certainly less brilliant than his. I think I'm a mixed soup of many Irish writers. Like Irish literary detritus. I think that's a fair description.

RR: Critics - love 'em or loath 'em?
EW:
Most of them - I fucking hate their guts! A terrible critic (in that they can't write a sentence) are essentially sub-animal. They're like spit. But there are about 3 theatre critics I respect and follow. Apparently we still need them - they love blogging about that crap.

RR: Is it wrong to assume having total control as Writer and Director of Misterman allowed you to reach your creative goal?
EW:
Yes it is. It's not really about that. I'm part of a large creative team. The result comes from our discussions. Sure I have the final say - but a lot of time I have no idea what the end result will be. It's always best not to know. Surround yourself with great people - that's the sort of slacker I am.

RR: You first worked with Cillian Murphy on Disco Pigs 15 years ago, how has your working relationship developed?
EW:
We've been good friends since - but really it's probably the same. We basically have a really fun time and gimp around the rehearsal room. We're both into losing ourselves to the character and making very definite, distinctive worlds.

RR: Without giving too much away, but to tease our readers a little… Misterman is a gripping play of crazed salvation that a particular Daily Mail critic has compared to the Anders Breivik story. What is it about the cruel aspect of the human condition that appeals as a subject matter?
EW:
Oh the Anders Breivik comparison is complete bullshit - like theatre needs to be stuck to some news story to give it a relevance. That's pretty reductive, don't you think?

RR: Big subjects require a little light relief - can we find some in Misterman?
EW:
I bloody well hope so! The piece for me is about a man trying to control a huge space.... and the space, I suppose, being his psychotic mind. The Irish love slamming humour against the tragic. We can't help it. That's why we love a well stocked funeral party. Sandwiches and death.

RR: Why are the Irish so charming?
EW:
Because we're so shit in bed.

RR: Since moving to London six years ago you've been massively prolific with seventeen stage plays, two radio plays, and three screenplays! What's next?
EW:
An opera called GAS with the composer Donnacha Dennehy.

RR: Could you treat our readers to a bite-sized Enda Walsh 'London anecdote'?
EW:
Bite sized. I once saw a girl pissing on the Tube. She didn't even look drunk.

Misterman
The National Theatre presents
A Landmark Productions / Galway Arts Festival production
by Enda Walsh
14 April-28 May 2012

nationaltheatre.org.uk

 

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