I don’t like violence – but Victor McGowan does. He’s the protagonist of the plays you’re about to read and I’m about to direct. Nancy Manocherian, the Founding Artistic Director of the cell, chose to feature The McGowan Trilogy as part of the First Irish Theatre Festival this year.
I’ve never held a gun, punched anyone, or been pistol-whipped. The closest I’ve been to a fight was a karate match when I was 8 and a self-defense class when I was 16.
I don’t have the stomach to watch torture, brutality, or physical violence. I close my eyes and cover my ears during the scary parts of movies (and books). But Seamus isn’t writing violence; he’s writing in response to it.
McGowan is a monster, but the world is a more potent monster. No one likes to admit it, but it’s difficult to maintain one’s humanity. Virtue isn’t rewarded and life is cruel.
Victor McGowan has traded his humanity for an ideological commitment and each play in this trilogy challenges his ability to maintain this perverse stoicism.
Paul Nugent is the ideal actor to embody McGowan because he is the opposite of him. He feels deeply and cares about everyone. Paul plays the monstrous McGowan with absolute conviction and is powerfully convincing, and yet he is trustworthy. His portrayal subtly reveals McGowan’s traumatized context, and so we empathize when he falters. We all know the world is a brutal place, even though we close our eyes and cover our ears.