Thursday, April 19, 2007

We, Keano

As Roy Keane's star seems to be rising once more, it only makes sense that his doppelgangers too are encountering a new purple patch. Not only is the touring version of I, Keano currently criss-crossing the land, taking in dates in Derry, Belfast, Limerick and, of course, Cork, a new theatre production based on the earlier life and times of the Sunderland manager is also warming up on the touchline.

Roy: A Footballer's Tale is a new one-man show written by journalist-turned-playwright, Alec McAllister and directed by Red Kettle's Jim Nolan. It stars Myles Horgan, the Rochestown-born actor, perhaps best known from Ken Loach's Irish civil war drama, The Wind The Shakes The Barley.

"Anyone who has seen me knows I'm not a Keano lookalike. I'm blonde-haired and blue-eyed," says Horgan. "So it was never going to be about doing an impersonation. There would be very little margin in an impersonation to put over the stuff we are interested in. It's about a very serious moment in his life, not setting him up for gag after."

McAllister's version of the Keano myth is set in the dressing room as Roy, having left Manchester United under a cloud, is about to take the field for Celtic. Saipan is part of Keano's past, but like many other episodes from that past, it refuses to stay in its place. So, Horgan not only plays the man himself, but also the myriad of ghosts that continue to haunt him, from Brian Clough, to Alex Ferguson and Mick McCarthy.

All these characters help to unpick the central enigma of Irish life, according to Horgan: "What nobody knows except those who were actually there, what never came out in the press, or in the books, is exactly what happened in that dressing room in Saipan. And that is what we are interested in…"

Ok, that's a mystery. But an equally intriguing mystery is why exactly so many people think that the best way to explore that mystery is in the theatre.

"Well, people are interested in that question: was he a hero or not? Was he stubborn or very brave? People like to see brave people. As I researched the play, I become more on his side." Which is presumably the only place to be if you are about to tour he country, playing Keane.

Roy: A Footballer's Tale had a short run in Wexford (where playwright McAllister is from) but is now getting ready for a national tour, which kick off in Cork next month. "yes, I suppose it will be different doing it in Cork, with people who knew him, or know him there. They'll have a completely different take on the accent…"

How good is your Keano accent? Would you ever do a little bit for me?

"What! So that you can say 'I heard the accent and it's shite. No way. Come and see the show if you want to hear it…"

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