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Issue 63 - Dancing with Donleavy

Whisky Magazine Issue 63
April 2007


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Dancing with Donleavy

Michael talks about the joys of Irish whiskey and the dangers of method acting

“Quiet, please. Quiet on the set. Thank you.” The set represents the exterior of The Bleeding Horse. It is a pub. Or is it a grave? Or a horse? The text is not clear.

I should have been paying more attention, reading more carefully. When I read J.P. Donleavy, I feel that I have fallen drunkenly into a large rabbit-hole: not in pursuit of some silken-haired Alice, but fatally seduced by a copper-coiffed Colleen. Tumbling through a warren of bars and bedrooms, I lose connection with space and time.

When the director shouts, “Action!” I am silently to count three beats, then enter by the side door. I need to know what it is that I am entering.

There's a lot of that stuff in Donleavy. He also talks of entering a barrel of Porter, when he is dead, and decomposing in it.”I wonder, will they recognise me?” he muses.

“Cut! Three beats, not a bloody daydream,” The director doesn't understand I am a method actor. I need to know my motivation. He sighs.

“Someone pour the Power's Gold Label.” There's a lot of that in Donleavy, too My motivation glistens on the table. I am nearly distracted again. I have a line here: “My bile is green”. My timing is okay, but I read it as “bible”. The director likes that. He wants to keep it. In an interview later, he will cite it as an example of an actor's improvisation enhancing the script. “A subconscious allusion to priest-ridden Ireland”.

“Action!” This time, I stick to the script, and my delivery hits the r...

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