Ronan FitzGibbon
Joe Meagher
Staring John McCarthy & Gary Murphy

Blackwater Babble by Ronan FitzGibbon

Feb 1st
8:00 pm

70 minutes  |  no interval  |  Age Suitability 16+  |  €14/€12 conc.

Were you ever at a singsong?

Did it go late?

Were the doors locked?

Did you sing?

Blackwater Babble is the story of a man who has spent years trying to work out what makes a good session.

Every maudlin ballad that killed the night and every table-thumper that saved it! This show invites its audience to head down the river with our scribbler and his younger self while they pick through the songs, fights, memories and obsessions that shaped his life. It is an exploration of regret and memory, masculinity and purpose, set against the changing face of the Irish pub.

Blackwater Babble is the story of a man who spent the best years of his life travelling the Blackwater River and stopping into every pub along the way to observe the singsongs. He became obsessed with the alchemy of the singsong. What made the night and what killed it. But, as he sat in the corner scribbling in his notebook, life and love flowed past him. Now he is sitting in his boat with his younger self, sifting through the notebooks, the songs, the memories and regrets.


Blackwater Babble by Ronan FitzGibbon, Directed by Joe Meagher,

Staring John McCarthy & Gary Murphy

Blackwater Babble @ Cork Midsummer Festival

Review by Liam Heylin, Evening Echo 20/06/2018 

The lighting is dimmed and we’re packed into a wonderful old Cork pub redolent of a million sing-songs, love stories, friendships and inevitably the odd row.

The painted timbers on the walls look like they got their tell-tale colour from a time before the smoking ban, a time when Ronan FitzGibbon’s overlapping stories are set.

The audience is crammed into  the pub to see two men possibly trying to reconstruct their past or maybe to demolish it  before it rises up to finish them off for once and for all. At first they are like two brothers who would prefer to tear strips off each other into the dying night as an alternative to being alone. But gradually it becomes clear that they are the younger and older version of the one man wrestling with his past.

Director Joe Meagher takes the  word trance from FitzGibbon’s script and makes it the calling for his production of the play. Even though the play happens over 70 minutes early on a Summer’s evening there is that rich and moody atmosphere of very  late night moments during a night’s  drinking.

This Brokencrow Theatre Company production delves into communal moments where any number of things could take hold – violence, rage, cowardice, loneliness, lust, love, cruelty or that transcendent moment where a sing-song hits full flight. While the emotional truths are always clear as a bell the more literal narrative moments are sometimes hard to be sure of in the welter of exchanges between the younger and older self.

Fitzgibbon and Meagher are blessed to have two fine Cork actors, namely John McCarthy and Gary Murphy, to sail this show into the night. McCarthy is the one trying to ignite the past, literally and figuratively, and his performance has a zest but also a sombre quality that prefigures the sadness ahead. Murphy is the embodiment of an aching heart who has almost given up on the possibility of some kind of flight. Even when just listening to McCarthy, Murphy manages to look like a deeply etched portrait hanging on the wall of the pub.


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