Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don Wycherley is a Fool for Love

"Shepard is a real man's man: there's testosterone all over the play!" says Don Wycherley, of his latest role, as the no-good, two-timing cowboy at the centre of American dramatist, Sam Shepard's Fool for Love.

In fact, Shepard's play is so drenched in males hormones, it seems, that its writer was rather surprised to hear it was to be directed by Annie Ryan. "'He was kinda incredulous..." says Wycherley, dropping rather smoothly into a cowboy twang "'There's a woman directing the play!!?' But they met after that and they got on great…"

As it happens, Wycherley sees Annie Ryan's directorial style, an extremely souped up and modernised version of the comedia del'arte made famous by the director's Corn Exchange theatre company, as pretty close to ideal for performing this play. "The play is very heightened theatrically, so that is exactly what it needs."

"In this play there is a lot of turning on a sixpence as far as an actor in concerned, flipping suddenly from tears to anger, and Annie's style is ideal for that. Flip now! And again! I'm loving it, but my body is rejecting it…"

On stage with Shepard is proving it seems, far more of a physical challenge that the film and television work which Wycherley has been doing a lot of lately. Ever since his appearance as the likeable loser in Batchelor's Walk, it has been pretty much illegal to make an Irish movie or TV drama without Wycherley. Everything from Showbands, to Shrooms, The Running Mate and Garage, have benefited from the West Cork-born actor's particular charms.

His first serious television gig, however, was on the dearly departed Ballykissangel. "That was a couple of years on BBC money, which was quite extraordinary. Money has actually gone down since then," says Wycherley, keen to scotch the rumour that if your face is seen as often as his on TV, you must be 'coining it'.

Next up he will be on the Abbey's main stage, in Conor McPherson's directorial debut, a five-hander, set at Christmas time (though opening in May) and marking the return to the Irish stage of former Druid director, Maeliosa Stafford.

But until then, Wycherley will be engaged in trying to apply the correct volume testosterone to Shepard's cowboy.

"I met Shepard for a coffee over in the pub when he was over doing Kicking a Dead Horse. And I just sort of sat there like an awestruck drama student. He said: 'how's the ropin' goin'. And I produced the rope I'd been practicing with from my bag, and he said: 'That's not the right rope -- you can't rope with that, you need a 16 ¼ inch rough chord…' Well, I went and got the right rope now. And It's a grand piece."

So, did he not do any lassoing back in West Cork, then?

"God no, we just asked them out…"



Anonymous Crazy for Don said...

There he is! What's up with Don? I'm watching him in Ballykissangel, and wondering where he went from there - some silly Shroom movie shows up in searches (I might just watch it to get a glimpse of him, on the other hand, maybe not) - but good to see he's still around. I don't know why he's not as popular - he was great in season 4 of BallyK - and quite gorgeous. I hope he knows that.

3:15 AM  
Blogger luke clancy said...

Is that you, Don?


10:16 AM  

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