Hugh Leonard’s comedy “Da,” opening at North Fourth Art Center on Friday, May 18, revolves around the living memories of Charlie, a grown man who returns home to Dublin after the death of his father, “Da.”
It’s 1968, and Charlie heads for England to pursue a career as a playwright. His frustrations are many; he’s angry that his ailing Da wouldn’t join him across the Irish Sea and annoyed by Da’s lack of ambition.
When Charlie returns to Ireland to pack up the family home after Da’s death, the specter of his father refuses to leave either the house or Charlie’s mind.
“Hugh Leonard is one incredible playwright,” West End Productions director Colleen McClure said. “He’s so vivid with his characters.” The play is largely autobiographical.
On his return, Charlie finds the old man’s presence still very much alive (and still trying to make cups of tea). Charlie loves Da, but he is embarrassed by him and carries that guilt.
“Da is a very simple gardener who takes care of another’s property,” McClure said. “Charlie wants his father to be more ambitious for himself and for Charlie.”
As a youth, Charlie attaches himself to the imperious and calculating Mr. Drumm, a high-level civil servant who sees Charlie as the son he never had. He warns Charlie that Da is blocking his success.
“As the ghost of Da comes back into the old house, it brings back memories of his mother and also the first time Charlie almost lost his virginity and how Da got in the way of that,” McClure said.
Charlie is an adult, but his personality is continually constrained by the ever-present Da.
Leonard laces the scenes with characteristic Dublin wit and barbed one-liners.
“Da” won the Tony Award for best play in 1978.