Home » Arts & Culture » Aodán braced to fly solo with one-man show at Hope Cafe
Aodán Fox plays multiple roles in 'A Night in November', the latest offering from Muse Productions, about a Belfast Protestant facing an identity crisis after witnessing hatred directed against Catholics during a World Cup qualifier in 1994 between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Aodán braced to fly solo with one-man show at Hope Cafe

FAMILIAR to many through Shannon Musical Society, Aodán Fox is taking on a new challenge this month.

Muse Productions is bringing a one man show, A Night In November, to the Hope Cafe, and it will run for three nights, September 15, 16 and 17, with Aodán the star of the show.

Readers of a certain age will remember the clash of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland soccer teams at Windsor Park in 1993, on a night when Loyalist animosity created a hateful, frightening atmosphere. 

The play’s title is a reference to the night of that match, and the atmosphere on the night leads to Kenneth Norman McAllister, a Protestant who has previously taken anti-Catholic prejudices for granted, questioning his beliefs and his identity.

Aodán said that while he was initially dubious about taking on yet another project, he was sold as soon as he saw the script.

“Martin (McNelis)  saw the original version in Limerick years ago and he thought it was fantastic. When they asked me if I’d be interested I said I wouldn’t because I was so busy. He sent me the script and I read two pages and I said ‘I’m so doing this’!”

Like many more people in Shannon, he arrived in the town from the North as the Troubles raged, so the play has extra meaning for him.

“It’s set in Northern Ireland and I was born in Belfast, my family would have moved to Shannon in the height of the Troubles in the early ‘70s.

“A lot of the themes and the language was very familiar to me. What I really found interesting was that it was coming at it from the other side, it was coming at it from a Protestant man who was faced with this sectarianism, it was his changing attitude and it was from his perspective as opposed to somebody from a Catholic perspective. It was interesting for me to see that transition and the way that he dealt with it and the way that he thought about things.”

The language in the script evoked memories of conversations he heard as a boy.

“The language is of Belfast, and there’s a real resonance with the way I would have heard my parents speak and the people that they would have interacted with in Shannon back in the ‘70s, the language is very familiar, the sayings, things like their kids doing the 11+ exam, things that people in the South wouldn’t recognise, but that I recognised from my parents speaking about them. That had great resonance.”

Onstage it will be just Aodán, and while doing a one-man show is not necessarily easy, he really wanted to try one.

“As an actor it’s hugely challenging because it’s a one-man piece. I always wondered as an actor would I be able to hold an audience’s attention on stage for that length of time by myself.

“I’ve seen a couple of one-man shows before and I wondered would I be able to do that, so when the opportunity came up I said I’d give it a go.

“It has everything, it goes from quite light hearted, to quite heavy in places, to quite emotional, to hilarious, very funny in places. As an actor it covers a whole spectrum of areas you want to cover; from that point of view it’s a real challenge and too good an opportunity to pass up.”

Being on stage alone means the ramifications of forgetting your lines could be serious.

“It’s scary, it’s scary that you are out there flying solo. There’s quite a lot of lines, quite a lot of stuff to learn. I think the first half runs at about 55 minutes and the second half runs at about 45. I don’t leave the stage at all except for the interval.

“As an actor usually if you lose your way in the lines you have somebody to dig you out, throw you the next line, and you find yourself back on track. When you’re out there on your own and you lose a line, it’s very difficult not to panic.”

It is being directed by Ted Germaine, who he finds hugely supportive and positive.

“Ted is the most encouraging and experienced director. When you come out of rehearsals with him you feel like Robert De Niro, you feel like the best actor in the whole world! From that perspective it’s been fantastic but it’s difficult in that you’re flying solo and it’s scary, but sure that’s the whole point of doing it, isn’t that why we do things in life, to challenge ourselves.”

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.