The Irish relationship to alcohol is explored in The drya wickedly dark, funny and revealing new series centered on a colorful Irish family.
The offbeat drama centers on Shiv (Roisín Gallagher), an emigrant returning to Ireland from London, recently sober and taking one day at a time.
But Shiv’s newfound and hard-earned sobriety is about to face some serious challenges. His family members have a relationship with alcohol that could best be described as messy, while his Mr Big – the guy from the house who got away – likes nothing better than a bottle of Barolo. smooth.
It’s played by actor Moe Dunford, who signed up after reading playwright Nancy Harris’ witty and pithy screenplay: “One of the most honest and true writings I’ve seen out of Ireland.
Shiv and his character, Jack, are used to falling in love with a few glasses of wine and Shiv, who has just returned, is at first hesitant to tell him how she is changing his life.
“There’s a Bonnie and Clyde element to them. They light a fire in each other, ”says the man from Waterford.
“They both kind of have this idea of freedom and fun. I like to see that this is what Shiv is looking for in some way, on his path to healing or finding his true voice.
“I love how the story deals with recovery and how you can see the inner workings of A.A. and all the truthfulness and reality that goes with it. Just within the family dynamics, how people can send the stupidity of the Irish, and the masks we wear and the “what you mean, you don’t drink” sort of attitude at receptions and funerals.
“Nancy did something really special. Paddy [Breathnach, director who previously worked with Dunford in the powerful movie Rosie] really look at all the characters as real human beings, really complex. And there are so many different things going on.
The Dry is one of two major series Dunford has been working on lately, including later. And it certainly feels like Irish storytelling and storytelling, after a slow start, is fast becoming among the world’s leading forces in episodic television.
Normal People was an intimate love story told with Irish accents and featuring those GAA shorts that became a phenomenon, with Kourtney Kardashian among its many celebrity fans.
Sharon Horgan’s Bad Sisters – featuring the exploits of another colorful family – currently spearheads Apple’s streaming program. Bodkin, shot on location around Union Hall in West Cork, is a darkly comedic tale of a group of podcasters investigating the disappearance of three strangers. The executive producers? None other than Barack and Michelle Obama.
There is ample evidence, as if it were needed, that international audiences want to see and hear stories told by our own voices.
“Well, just look at the quality of the broadcasts,” observes Dunford. “I love the Derry Girls. I love the stuff that comes out of here so much and what they’ve done with The Young Offenders. You’re dealing with a quintessentially Irish story that can be told around the world.
“The obvious thing is that streaming wasn’t as popular as it is now and movies were the place to go and see your quality drama or the characters you know and love. I think it has a lot to do with streaming and the times we live in, the times we’ve been through. That’s not to say he doesn’t love the cinematic experience and, like many of us, has spent his summer falling in love with a few films – the biggest blockbuster and a little Irish film that could go as far as at the Oscars.
In fact, after we’ve talked, he’s heading to his local cinema in Dungarvan to catch up with Tom Cruise working his movie magic in Top Gun: Maverick.
“I’m going to be rewatching Top Gun today for the second time because while it’s great to have our streaming experiences, I just think it feels like my first time watching Mad Max: Fury Road. I love seeing practical effects on screen and how they did it for real. I was literally like a kid beaming at the movies watching it.
He also joined the growing audience for Ireland’s nomination for Best International Feature Film at next year’s Oscars. An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl), a moving drama about a girl’s formative summer in 1980s Ireland, is described by the actor as, “Deeply beautiful – it’s just stunning.” The low-budget film proved to be a big hit with Irish audiences throughout the summer and is now finding an international fan base.
He is also excited to see the upcoming Irish-language film, Róise & Frank, about a grieving widow who begins to believe that a stray dog who has entered her life could be her reincarnated husband. It was filmed en route from his home town of Dungarvan in the Irish-speaking village of Ring.
“Irish films, films shot in our mother tongue and blockbusters, that gave me a lot of hope,” says Dunford. “It also made me want to speak more Irish – I would love to make a film ‘like Gaeilge’ and be able to do that, because those films and watching them on the big screen connects us to our roots and that we are and use our mother tongue.
“Seeing actors speak our language is simply wonderful. I think [Irish] should stay alive, and that’s why it’s so great to see it up there on the big screen.
Over the past decade, Dunford has built a career since his breakthrough performance in Irish indie, Patrick’s Dayin which he played a young man with mental health issues.
After a four-year stint as Aethelwulf on a hit series vikingshe starred in several feature films, including a gritty prison drama, Michael insidethe charming story of an unlikely friendship that was handsome devilcrime thriller The Dig and more recently in a new version of Chainsaw Massacre published by Netflix.
The actor is happy to be back in his hometown after spending much of the summer filming a major new TV series in Spain.
He joins a returning cast for season two of The heada crime thriller that proved to be an international hit, airing in 90 countries.
Following the events of the first series, set on a glacial polar research station, the second season takes place on a sea freighter carrying out a high-stakes scientific mission.
“It was a real adventure,” he says of the three-month shoot, which also gave him the opportunity to work with Northern Irish actor John Lynch.
“The second season takes place on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean. As Knives out was inspired by Agatha Christie, it’s like a mix between Agatha Christie and John Carpenter. It is located on a scientific research station – it is very inspired by the 1980s.
“We were shooting on real ships and oil rigs. Being there with the team in Spain gave me the feeling of what I hoped to be when I was a kid.
- The Dry will air on RTÉ later this fall.