Though better known for his novels, the Irish dialect magician Roddy Doyle is also a serious playwright. This penchant for dramaturgy won’t surprise anyone who has seen what ripe fruit his novels have been for film directors. It’s not that Doyle writes virtual movies only temporarily disguised as books (as it seems John Grisham does), but that the people on his pages are so alive the subsequent film seems inevitable. The big screen just feels like an official presentation of the dream Doyle already built in your head.
It’s the talk that does it–a sort of specialized talk laced with physicality. There’s a terrific toss-away line from Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend where a young boy is described as a “beautiful reader of a newspaper. He do the Police in different voices.” Eliot almost titled The Wasteland–in which he tried to capture everything–after that strangely lapidary Dickens sentence. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Doyle do it too–the police (there’s that physicality again) in different voices, even when they aren’t cops but singers, strivers, workers, gamblers, brothers, rebels. Now The Commitments, which was a hit film after being a breakout book, will see the stage in London’s West End–more than 25 years after it was first published. A lot of people have been using the word finally. The Commitments will be directed by Jamie Lloyd, who won praise recently for his London staging of Macbeth, 400 years after the text was set.