David Heap in The Passion of Jonathan Swift

GALWAY’S Catastrophe Theatre Company bring their acclaimed production of Love & Fury, The Passion of Jonathan Swift with David Heap to Macroom’s Briery Gap at the end of November.

Heap who trained at the Bristol Old Vic came to Ireland to play Lancey in Field Day’s world premiere of Brian Friel’s Translations.

Here he tells The Jig about the play, directed by Paul Hayes.

WCT. Tell us about the show.

DH. Jonathan Swift is only known by most people now for Gulliver’s Travels and usually children’s editions of that masterpiece.

But he was perhaps the foremost satirical writer of his age and his works had a powerful political impact.

One of his campaigns against an unpopular government measure led to him being cheered through the streets of Dublin by a grateful populace.

The play takes place in a room in his house next to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin where he was the Dean.

He is mourning the death of his closest female friend and to distract himself he reminisces and quotes poems, thoughts and passages from many of his finest writings, including Gulliver’s Travels and The Modest Proposal.

All the words I speak were written by him; what I’ve tried to do is give an impression of his wit, wisdom, passion and anger at the injustices of the world around him.

I hope it is both funny and sad and that people will enjoy the brilliance of his creations.

 

WCT. Where did the idea for the show come from?

DH. The idea for the show came from Gavin Kostick, the playwright, who had discovered a couple of Swift’s writings which have an uncanny relevance to today.

A uncomplimentary poem about bankers and an essay called The Swearers’ Bank.

I was walking through Chinatown in Manhattan last year when he called me with the idea.

Half an hour later I had joined the New York Public Library and was researching in the Reading Room.

 

WCT. You played Donal Maher in Fair City, do you still get recognised?

DH. I was in Fair City for 10 years altogether and enjoyed it enormously.

I was always amazed by the number of people who recognised me, and not just in Ireland, but England and New York.

It’s been six years since Donal went off to London with his girlfriend’s sister, but people still say hello and ask if I’ll be back.

I tell them to write to the producers demanding my return.

Sometimes people just think they know me from somewhere. The best bit was getting lots of smiles from gorgeous women, very good for an old guy’s ego.

 

WCT. Why should we go and see the show?

DH. I hope people will come to see Love & Fury because it’s a chance to hear some of the best bits of Gulliver’s Travels and discover something of the life and the brilliant creative range of one of the greatest writers in English of all time, and a Dub by birth.

Love & Fury, The Passion of Jonathan Swift is at the Briery Gap, Macroon on Tuesday, November 22nd at 8pm.

Tickets from the Briery Gap box office are priced at €15 and €12 for concessions.