The Rogue to Redemption – The Irish World



Actor Aaron Monaghan spoke to David Hennessy about the black comedy Redemption of a Rogue, which deals with suicide and depression but doesn’t try to make fun of those issues.

Philip Docherty’s dark comedy Redemption of a Rogue centers on Jimmy Cullen, a character described as “tired of living and breathing” but must return home to face his demons.

When seen in his hometown of Cavan, several people say, “Is that Jimmy Cullen?

However, the response is often something like “It can’t be, that bitch would never show her face around here”.

Even his own brother Damien greets Jimmy with a punch saying he has dreamed of doing it for years. It is clear from the start that absolutely no one is looking forward to the return of this prodigal son.

Jimmy and Damien bury their abusive father when the sky opens and the funeral must be halted in accordance with their father’s wish not to be buried on a rainy day.

The only problem is that there isn’t a quick shower that has befallen Ballylough, more like a biblical downpour that looks set to last for forty days and forty nights.

And until he buries his father, Jimmy can’t kill himself.

When it comes to dark comedies, you can’t get much blacker.

If you heard about a movie about a suicidal character burying his father and dealing with the guilt of being the driver of an accident that left a former girlfriend in a wheelchair, you wouldn’t think you heard of him. ‘a comedy.

Lead actor Aaron Monaghan told The Irish World that there is a balance to be struck in not seeking to shed light on these issues, but also not giving them the serious treatment they have received elsewhere in the world. heavier pieces.

Aaron told us, “In some ways, bringing up a topic like suicide or something like that, I feel like there’s a lot of work going on right now that’s so heavy on these big topics. dark.

“And in a lot of ways they’re so respectful to it that the movie or work might not survive but be anything but a moral story or some sort of twist of hands.”

“We talked about it.

“I’ll be honest, we didn’t tiptoe too much.

“I think we thought the audience might feel the same way about these things.

“I know that Philip speaks about the difficulty of life, and the joy of living is in the comedy.

“I’m not saying Philip was suicidal or anything like that, but I do know a lot of this stuff kind of comes from a personal place.

“We’ve been very clear on this: it’s just the idea that you can be in a very, very dark place, not to make fun of him but not to be too respectful about it either.

“My journey in the film is that of someone who starts from a very, very dark place, who has no purpose in life or will to live, and really finds purpose and finds will.

“The film almost looks like a fairy tale.

“It’s biblical obviously.

“I think that kind of hits you on the head. He’s not trying to be subtle. He’s not trying to be fair.

“But I don’t think that attacks too heavily the idea of ​​suicide or depression.

“So for me it was about celebrating life and finding joy in life.

“We had these discussions and as long as we stayed in this territory, I think we felt safe.”

Another actor may have been surprised by the darkness of the script when he first read it.

But having known writer / director Philip Docherty since their teenage years, Aaron had confidence in him.

“I was on board long before I read the script to be honest.

“I think we’ve known each other since we were 15 years old.

“He’s just a bit of a genius. We were together in a drama for young people.

“He grew up to be sort of a writer / director, a theater enthusiast, I don’t know what you call him. A ring master, that’s what I would call it.

“I was obviously an actor.

“He came back to Cavan around the time I was looking to come back and work.

“He ran this amazing place, an amazing theater and he had an amazing group of artists.

“Our small town that we grew up in which had very little artistic activity when we were teenagers suddenly blossomed when Philip was running this place and he kind of led this revival of the arts.

“We tried several times to find the project to work together and in terms of timing it never worked.

“So, a year before the film was shot, he made me sit in his office.

“He said, ‘I’m making this movie. And he told me the beats of the story, piece by piece.

“And he said he hadn’t written the script yet but I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it. I’m in’.

“A year later the script was there.

“And what he presented to me in his office a year ago was what ended up on the page beat by beat.

“I know Philip is very, very good at black comedy.

“What I liked about the script was that it was so Irish. It was relentlessly funny and it was shamelessly dark and it was so Cavan.

“It was like a love letter to a small town in Ireland.

“The only scary part was whether or not that would get captured in the movie and the next scary part was whether what we got on the camera would be incorporated into the edit and the screen.

“And on both counts, it really is.”

There may be comedic relief for viewers, but was it hard for Aaron to stay in the head of such a depressed character day in and day out? “To a certain extent, yes.

“I think it was so clear to me when he presented the movie to me, and then with what ended up on the page: you have to be in a certain state of mind to contemplate these dark thoughts and have lived this life.

“But as you see very often when you live in these small towns when you look around you think to yourself, ‘People are crazy.’

“And when you’re in such a state of mind, sometimes you feel like you’re the only sane one.

“I think that’s really the character of the movie.

“The conditions in which we shot were not ideal, they were very difficult. They were very tough, so in a weird way, it just kept my head in that same place the whole time.

“I am a very patient person, but it was an ordeal to shoot the film.

“I’m not saying I didn’t have a good time.

“The character is pretty much trying to hold on.

“He’s just waiting to go through all the different things he has to go through and he has to have patience.

“So it was very easy to get into that state of mind.

“We shot it in record time. I think we shot it in 21 days or 23 days. We barely slept and I got wet every day.

“I don’t know how I didn’t die of pneumonia.

“That kind of kept me in that state of mind.

“The way I approached it was this guy is the straight guy, everyone around him is hilarious and funny.

“So I approached him playing the straight man and everyone around me is the funny, crazy character.

“All I had to do was play it straight up, pretty much monotonous throughout the movie.”

It’s Masha, played Aisling O’Mara, who is Jimmy’s salvation. She’s as much a stranger to the city as Jimmy is and gets arrested when we first see her in the movie. Realizing that he is planning to kill himself when it stops raining, she says she hopes it never stops raining.

The rain didn’t stop falling for the duration of the movie, but were there days they wanted it to rain and it wouldn’t? “Actually, when we started the movie, it was snowing.

“In fact, it didn’t rain very much and yet 80% of the film takes place when it rains.

“They made this film with a budget of € 45,000. They said they would blow the whole budget on the second day if they had a rain machine, so they asked the team to make not one but three rain machines so that we never ran out of rain.

“This amazing crew, we called them ‘the waterboys’ built this system and it’s amazing what they did, so it never really bothered us that it wasn’t raining.”

Aaron’s on-screen credits include Love / Hate, Maze, ’71, Vikings, The Foreigner, and Assassin’s Creed, but this is where he is usually seen in supporting roles.

His work on stage has led him to do a lot with the Abbey and Druid Theater companies.

He won an Obie Award for his role as Cripple Billy in Martin McDonagh Inishman’s infirm.

His other acclaimed roles include Tarragon in Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, the title role in William Shakespeare Richard III, and Lopakhin in Anton Tchekhov The Cherry Orchard, all Druidic productions.

Did he like being a leading man on screen for a change? “It was great.

“It’s fun playing supporting roles on TV and in movies. I like the freedom of not having to hold the whole movie or a whole TV series and being able to go in and out.

“I find the theater much more difficult. I would play lead roles in the theater and that requires a huge amount of stamina.

“You do it night after night, three shows a day or you tour around the world.

“So the amount of energy, the amount of stamina it takes, I still sort of find that is where the difficulty lies.

“I was looking for something that would challenge me on the movie just for my own sense of the genre, ‘Can you do it? Can you hook a performance from start to finish and direct it? “

“I think I was looking for something like this.

“A few roles and opportunities have arisen over the past two years to do this. I never felt good about them, the timing didn’t work out.

“There was just something about it that I said, ‘Sounds absolutely right.’

“And I really enjoyed doing it. I felt like I was proving something to myself that I didn’t know had to be proven.

“I really had a ball. I want to do a lot more.

“I am so proud of the film.

“I hope people in London like it.”

Redemption of a Rogue is playing at the Genesis Cinema, Mile End at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 21.

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Julio V. Miller