When GO Brooklyn reached playwright Enda Walsh, he was at home in London and had just finished watching an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The 41-year-old Irishman is the author of “The Walworth Farce,” which will make its U.S. debut at St. Ann’s Warehouse in DUMBO on April 15, but despite being a serious playwright, he was still floored by Larry David’s antics.
“It’s so good,” he said. “That’s perfect farce.”
Commissioned by the Druid Theatre Company of Galway, his play premiered at the Druid Festival in 2006, and recently won the “Fringe First” award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. With its stateside premiere on the horizon, GO Brooklyn spoke to Walsh about the show, visiting Brooklyn, and whether folks in the U.K. really do eat fried Twinkies.
GO Brooklyn: Where did the idea for ‘The Walworth Farce’ originate?
Enda Walsh: For this particular show, its beginnings are in Irish immigrant plays. As much as I dislike Irish immigrant plays — because a lot of them are dull and romantic — I really wanted to tackle one. Inherent in every Irish person is a connection with the immigrant, and you’re just aware of it. I spent my college years working in bars in London and meeting these Irish guys who went over there in the 1970s and built houses but never actually got home, so they romanticized about home and spent a lot of time in pubs. It’s always something I’ve carried around with me.
The construction of a farce came about by accident, but I pursued it and it seemed like a good construct to hang things off of and would keep an audience alert and excited.
GO: ‘The Walworth Farce,’ like your earlier works, focuses on a family. Is the play at all autobiographical?
EW: I don’t think so, but I’m very interested in what it means to be a father or a brother in a family. You’re brought up within a family, but the more you live away from one another, the less of a connection you have. You think you know your family, but do you? At the heart of it, this play is about a father trying to keep the family together in an extraordinary, funny, ludicrous, cruel way. I think any man will recognize the real need to keep his sons or daughters safe.
My relationship with my father, knowing that he was always trying to do the best thing for us…from a son’s point of view, you look at it and say ‘I don’t think you did that right,’ but in retrospect, you know he did a fine job. It’s that sort of conversation I want to have with the audience; it’s theatrical but the sentiment is simple.
GO: One of the characters performs in drag. How does that go over with his family?
EW: Garrett Lombard is in drag — his character is one of the sons. The play is about a father who gets up every morning and makes his sons play a farce. He dresses them up as characters in the play he wrote. The one son is actually the much more masculine, alpha male son, and the actor, who is very handsome and muscular, plays about four women. To see this sort of man morph into a little old lady or a sexy temptress is a very funny thing. We’re seeing this very strange depiction of women on stage through the eyes of this wild Irishman.
GO: The show’s U.S. premiere is in Brooklyn. Is that something you’re looking forward to? Where else will it be showing?
EW: I’ve got mates who live in Brooklyn Heights, so I was there a couple years ago and know the neighborhood. It’s extraordinary and has such color and dynamism to it, as opposed to Manhattan. Brooklyn feels more like London. This is the only engagement, and we’ll see how it goes — you put it out there and hope for the best. It would be a sweet thing to bring it other places, but it’s a tricky thing for a foreign playwright to get work into America. I’m just delighted that someone saw it and liked it. My contemporaries over here talk about New York theater and that St. Ann’s is really embracing European theater. It’s a real honor to be showing there.
GO: We’ve got a local delicacy — fried candy bars or Twinkies — at the British-themed Chip Shop in Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and Bay Ridge. Will you be eating any to remind you of home?
EW: They do that in Scotland, but not so much in Ireland. I saw a deep-fried Snickers bar in Scotland, but I think in Scotland they batter everything. I went to a Scottish buffet, and it was the most beige thing I’ve ever seen in my life, it was just a table of battered goods. A Twinkie? My God, that sounds dangerous — and perverted.
Druid Theatre Company of Galway’s production of “The Walworth Farce” by Enda Walsh will be staged April 15 through May 4 at St. Ann’s Warehouse (38 Water St. between Dock and Main streets in DUMBO). Tickets are $37.50. For more information, call (718) 254-8779 or visit www.stannswarehouse.org.