Monday 16 September 2019

'An entertaining set up' for the fringe festival

Peter McGann stars in a play which takes place in a Toyota Starlet, Eimear Dodd reports

Peter McGann and Roxanna Nic Liam
Peter McGann and Roxanna Nic Liam

A Wicklow actor is starring in the debut play written by comedian Alison Spittle which will première during the Dublin Fringe Festival.

Peter McGann, from Rathdrum, will play Michael in Starlet, a dark comedy set in Westmeath during the bust.

The play opens at the Smock Alley Theatre next month as part of the Dublin Fringe Festival 2019. McGann, who is best known for his work on RTE 2's Republic of Telly, stars alongside Love/Hate and Fair City actress Roxanna Nic Liam in a story about a first date.

Speaking to the Wicklow People, Peter said, 'The entire play takes place in a Toyota Starlet in real time over the course of the date. It's set where Alison [Spittle] is from in the Midlands in 2008. It's about this couple and he picks her up in a Starlet. Then, they go on this drive around the town with various stop offs along the way. It's their awkward getting to know one another.'

Peter also took part in a shorter work in progress version of the play which was performed at Scene and Heard. He praised Spittle's writing and hinted that the play has a twist in its final act.

'It is genuinely the best piece of writing I've ever got to work on. I also worked on the work in progress version and it's so tight and hilariously funny. You'd busting a gut laughing the whole way through it and then your jaw will be on the floor at the end.'

'It takes a turn that's quite risky. But how Alison's written these two people and their relationship, it's an incredible ending to this funny play. It's not like it's full of jokes. The humour comes from the dialogue and these two people's behaviour. It feels so real, you'd feel like you'd know a hundred of these characters. That's the fun of doing it, it's such a simple play in many ways but then there's so much going on underneath.'

Rehearsals for the play get underway towards the end of the month. However, Peter said the work in progress performances acted as a 'dry run'.

'For the work in progress, it was just me, Roxanna and the director Simon [Mulholland] in a room, talking out the play and sharing similar stories. We talked about a lot and that bleeds into the play itself and makes it stronger without making a big deal about it.'

An actor, writer and director, Peter has a busy few months ahead. His play, The Roaring Banshees, co-written with John Morton is being staged in Dublin this month. Set in Chicago in 1923, a rogue Cumann na mBán unit flee across the Atlantic to escape the law after a failed assassination attempt on Eamon De Valera. With Prohibition in full swing, they earn their keep by making bootleg poitín and selling it on to the Chicago mob.

'It's like a big epic gangster story. It's mad but it's good fun and I'm really proud of it,' Peter said.

He is also excited for audiences to see Starlet. 'Even if you think you're not a fan of theatre, you couldn't get a more entertaining set up. It's the most relatable Irish conversations and even though it is a dark comedy, I don't think people should feel intimidated by going to see a play because Alison has written something that's so accessible, real and honest,' Peter added.

Starlet will be performed at Dublin's Smock Alley Theatre from September 18- 22 with a preview on September 17. Tickets cost €14. For bookings, information, visit

Bray People