Dr Theatre came to the rescue at the White Bear Theatre for the London run of Am I Irish Yet?, the acclaimed one-woman show written and performed by Kate Kerrigan.
Just days before last night’s opening, Kerrigan broke her arm – luckily for the right-hander, her left arm. So with a green cast and sling to match the green in her costume, the show did indeed go on – in front of a packed-out house of fellow women with Irish connections.
Kerrigan is a prolific journalist and New York Times best-selling novelist, but in Am I Irish Yet? she tells her own story as the daughter of Irish parents who grew up in 1980s London, longing for the homeland and rooting for the IRA. Her search for belonging saw her emigrate to Dublin and eventually settle in a small town in County Mayo, marrying an Irishman and raising Irish children.
But where has she ever fit in? Is she ‘Bombing Irish’ or a ‘Plastic Paddy’? Can she ever be accepted by her compatriots when she can’t rid herself of her English accent, which Irelanders despise from birth? Can she ever really love herself when she hates the sound of her own voice?
It’s a bittersweet tale, which we discussed in more depth in our post-performance conversation, during which audience members shared many of their own painful memories of discrimination on both sides of the Irish Sea.
Kerrigan made a compelling case for why Ireland’s greatest export is not its literature, music or Guinness, but the very idea of Irishness which is kept alive by St Patrick’s Day-loving members of second- and third-generation members of the diaspora.
No doubt, it’s that diaspora that helped sell out Am I Irish Yet?‘s initial dates – it has now extended by a week – but, I must say, this play really isn’t just for those with emerald green roots. As the blurb on the show poster says, it’s for anyone whose accent or skin is frequently asked the question: “but where are you really from?” That definitely counts for this American blow-in of 30+ years.
Am I Irish Yet? is now running at London’s White Bear Theatre until 7 October 2023.
Event photography by Anthony Kelly.
‘Bombing Irish’ or ‘Plastic Paddy’?
In Am I Irish Yet?, London-born, second-generation Irishwoman @KateKerrigan reveals what it takes to fit in in small-town Mayo.
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) September 26, 2023
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) September 27, 2023
It hasn’t even started at @WhiteBearTheatr & it’s already a sell-out hit. ☘️ @katekerrigan ‘s Am I Irish Yet? has added a week to its run. If you’re lucky enough to have 🎟 to this Tue 26 Sep’s opening, you’ll also get my post-show Q&A with the author & star! #postshowtalks https://t.co/floSy99R8I
— Terri Paddock (@TerriPaddock) September 24, 2023