John Boland: A performer of depth and potency who found Irish stage too limiting
Published 16/02/2011 | 05:00
'No one could accuse TP McKenna of being a likeable performer. Those coldly penetrating eyes, that thin, sardonic mouth, the disdainful vocal delivery have seen to that. 'I'm usually cast as a shit,' he cheerfully remarks."
Those were the opening lines of a piece I wrote for 'Hibernia' magazine in 1977 when TP McKenna was 48 and I was a young journalist. We had met, at his suggestion, in Neary's of Chatham Street and I found him bracingly good company -- articulate, dryly witty and with a nice line both in self-deprecation and invective.
However, I observed in the same interview that, while he tended to play characters who were either downright unpleasant or not very nice, "he charges the not-niceness with a sense of dreams sullied and ambitions thwarted, so you end up unable to wholly dislike the character and guiltily aware that perhaps you should try to understand him".