Niall Tóibín stars in Brendan Behan's 'Borstal Boy' in Dublin's Gaiety Theatre. He talks to Doireann Ní Bhriain about why the play is still relevant today, eleven years after it was first performed.

‘Borstal Boy’, the stage adaptation by Frank McMahon from the book of the same name by Brendan Behan, is playing at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre.  The director is Tomás MacAnna.  ‘Borstal Boy’ made its debut at the Abbey Theatre in 1967.  

Doireann Ní Bhriain asks Niall Tóibín if the play has the same impact now as it had when first performed.  He feels that the younger generation will view it differently, given the background of what is going on in Northern Ireland, 

...ach mar is eol dúinn, tá rudaí i bhfad níos measa tarlaithe idir an dá linn, agus ag tarlú gach lá...Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil morán grinn ag baint leis, mar nach féidir, is dócha, aon tagairt don sort don foréigin a lua gan é a cheangail leis na rudaí uafásacha atá tarlaithe idir an dá linn...

Tóibín remembers the time they brought the play to Belfast, which was an experience in itself.  In 1970 ‘Borstal Boy’ had a four month run on Broadway, and he was pleasantly surprised at the reaction from the New York audiences,

...ní raibh aon deacracht in aon chor, d’éirigh leo an rud go léir a thuiscint...

Have many changes been made to the play since its first performance?  Not many, says Tóibín.  With a role like this, he is ever mindful of what Brendan Behan had in mind when he wrote the book, and of all the things that happened in his life.  It wouldn’t be an honest artistic representation otherwise.  

This episode of ‘P.M.’ was broadcast on 8 June 1978.  The reporter is Doireann Ní Bhriain.  

‘P.M.’ was a magazine series reporting on aspects of Irish life with interludes for music from Irish performers. 
‘P.M.’ first began on Tuesday, 20 September, 1977 and was initially aired three nights a week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7.00pm on RTÉ 1. 

The original presenters John O'Donoghue, Áine O'Connor, Nicholas Coffey and Doireann Ní Bhriain were later joined by Pat Kenny.  "As editor Noel Smyth sees it, the Tuesday programme will consist mainly of film reports on topical events anywhere in Ireland, the Wednesday edition will concentrate on studio discussions, and the Thursday programme will be in Irish, with just as wide a brief as the other two." (RTÉ Guide, 16 September 1977, Vol.1, No.37, p.18)

‘P.M.’ ran until Thursday, 12 April 1979.