Saturday 10 December 2016

John Boland: A performer of depth and potency who found Irish stage too limiting

John Boland

Published 16/02/2011 | 05:00

TP McKenna with Aideen O'Kelly in the pantomime 'Muireann and the Prince'
TP McKenna with Aideen O'Kelly in the pantomime 'Muireann and the Prince'

'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."

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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".

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