Honouring the life of one of Northern Ireland’s favourite sons, comedian Frank Carson, is no easy feat, but for actor Dan Gordon writing the one man show was a labour of love.
Before he penned A Rebel Without a Pause, Dan spent three years trawling through television archives, deciphering Frank’s personal notebooks, and interviewing the late star’s friends and family.
The finished result charts Frank’s tough upbringing in the docklands of Belfast, where he was raised in poverty between two world wars. He was a Paratrooper and served in the Middle East. On returning to Belfast, Frank performed in talent shows, parish teas, charity and variety shows. Through the 60s he played a pivotal role in St Columb’s Hall Sunday night variety shows in Londonderry, before going on to build a huge following across the UK, as he toured the working men’s clubs before bursting onto our television screens and staying there for half a century.
“It has been hard work, but its been worth it,” admits Dan, speaking as he headed into last minute rehearsals this week. “I grew up with Frank Carson on the telly back when there were only three channels and household names really were household names.
“I was the class clown and I loved Frank’s silly jokes. They’re not sophisticated but they’re still funny. A lot of them are one liners and that really appealed to me.”
A lot of research went into the writing of the show, which was a huge success during its month long run at the Edinburgh Festival earlier this year. “Frank was always telling jokes and didn’t open up very much,” continues Dan. “The family allowed me access to a lot of material he had written by hand, but a lot of it was fictitious so I had to fact check everything.”
Looking forward to opening night, Dan added: “I am very excited but very nervous. Edinburgh was a different experience, but now I am bringing Frank home.”
This is 75-minute whirlwind comedy drama celebrating the man, the myth and the mouth - it’s a cracker!
Dan will take to the stage of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast from November 1-5. The curtain goes up each evening at 7.45pm, with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2.30pm. Tickets, priced £20 (concession £16, matinees £16) are on sale from the Lyric Theatre Box Office on 028 9038 1081 or online at www.lyrictheatre.co.uk.