‘The Chief’ reveals Michael Collins, the man

Going Out

CENTRE STAGE Ryan Donaldson as the towering figure of Michael Collins in Jimmy Murphy's compelling new play. Pic: Twitter/@DecadentTheatre

Decadent Theatre Company are returning to the stage in Westport with ‘The Chief’ by Jimmy Murphy, a new play that looks at the man behind the iconic figure of Michael Collins.
Currently debuting in Galway, where it will run until September 17, ‘The Chief’ will be staged in Westport Town Hall Theatre for one night only, on Tuesday, September 20, after which it travels to the Backstage Theatre in Kitty Kiernan’s home county of Longford.
Marking the centenary of Collins’s death in August 1922, The Chief explores his intimate relationship with Kitty Kiernan, his dream for a united Ireland and his guilt at taking arms against former comrades. It reflects on the new Ireland that he imagined, alongside the tragic fate that Kitty feared would soon overtake him.
Decadent Theatre Company’s Andrew Flynn directs a cast of six in a drama that speaks directly to the Ireland of today and the contemporary debate on a united Ireland. Ryan Donaldson has been cast as Michael Collins, and in her seventh role with Decadent Theatre Company, Maeve Fitzgerald will play Kitty Kiernan. The play’s cast also includes Liam Heslin, Kyle Hixon, Shane O’Regan, and Jarlath Tivnan.
Jimmy Murphy is a Dublin playwright with a string of hits to his name, including ‘Brothers of the Brush’, ‘The Kings of the Kilburn High Road’ and ‘The Hen Night Epiphany’ (which was staged in Westport by St Patrick’s Drama Group in 2017).
In 2007, ‘The Kings of Kilburn High Road’ was adapted into an IFTA-winning bi-lingual feature film, ‘Kings’, which was also selected as Ireland’s official entry for the 2008 Academy Awards for Best Foreign-Language Film.
Murphy’s other works include ‘Of This Brave Time’, which was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre to commemorate the 1916 Rising, ‘The Seamster’s Daughter’ and the acclaimed Dublin gangland drama ‘Idlewild’.  His most recent play, ‘The Cartographer’s Pen’, premiered at the Ramor Theatre in May of this year. In 2004 he was elected to Aosdána.
“When I was asked to write a play about Michael Collins, there were a number of things about the last months of his life that intrigued me,” says Murphy. “Writing ‘The Chief’ has revealed contradictions and complexities about the man that have left me less intrigued and more astonished.
“The closer you look at the things that were hiding in plain sight in the weeks coming up to Collins’s death, the more revealing they are as to what exactly happened, why and how, on that fateful day.
“I am particularly looking forward to seeing this production staged in the Westport Theatre, as I visited the space a couple of years ago and love the dynamic of the atmosphere it creates – there are a lot of people on the Dublin theatre scene talking about the unique space that is Westport Town Hall Theatre!”
Andrew Flynn has been Artistic Director of Decadent Theatre Company since 2000. One of Ireland’s busiest directors, his most recent production was the stage adaptation of Donal Ryan’s ‘From a Low and Quiet Sea’, which ran during the Galway International Arts Festival in July 2022. Reviewing the play, The Sunday Independent said, “It is not very often that four demanding and intense roles come together with absolute perfection, but they do in this production.”
Also in 2022, Flynn directed a national tour of David Harrower’s ‘Blackbird’, which travelled to eleven venues nationwide, including the Westport Town Hall Theatre, from April to June.

Tickets are available from the Westport Town Hall Theatre box office on 098 28459 or online at www.westporttheatre.com.