It’s 1993, and Kenneth Norman McCallister is a bigoted gobs***te working-class prod working as a dole clerk in Belfast, having pulled himself up by his bootstraps to attain golf club membership denied to his (Catholic) boss.
And then he brings his equally bigoted, foul-mouthed, chain-smoking father-in-law to the World Cup soccer qualifier between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
Cue a sea-change in which Kenneth realises that all Catholics (including his despised boss) are jolly, loving, warm-hearted, upright people, full of joy in life, the milk of human kindness, and endless generosity.
Under this life-giving realisation, he steals his and his wife’s life-savings, and heads to New York for the Italian match and Jack’s Army, and becomes a proud, drunken Irishman bellowing his love of his fellow-man in Doran’s on Second Avenue.
I thought it was, to say the least, wall-eyed when Marie Jones wrote A Night in November 20 years ago. I still think it. If, as a Northern Ireland Protestant (which she is) she had written such a viciously scarifying, sneering, and contemptuous attack on Catholic bigotry, she would probably have been lynched. But we love Protestants south of the border in Ireland … when they go on the offensive against Protestant bigotry.
Ramor Theatre from Virginia in Cavan have revived the piece, and are touring it around Ireland (it was in the Pavilion, Dun Laoghaire, on Thursday) and will finish in Bailieboro on May 31st.
A Night in November is extraordinarily well-written, and Padraic McIntyre gives a bravura performance as Kenneth, milking it for all it’s worth while staying well on the right side of hamminess. He is directed by Paddy Farrelly, who is also responsible for lighting and sound in the production.