A Fanatic Heart: Geldof On W. B. Yeats
directed by Bob Geldof
“You can die for a cause, but you must live for a reason.” A powerful quote, and if you love poetry readings and Irish history, this show is full of moving words to stir your soul. Tonight’s Master of Ceremony is a white-haired Bob Geldof (Boomtown Rats, Band Aid). His guests arise from a wide swath of British and Irish intelligentsia, actors and musicians. Tonight’s topic is the “Irish Question,” Ireland’s long crusade to free itself of English rule. The tension exploded in the Easter uprising of 1916, and the storyteller for this saga is W. B. Yeats. Between recitations we learn about Yeats unhappy life – deflowerment by an older woman, his one-sided vasectomy, the grinding poverty, and a Nobel prize. Modern readers talk about Yeats work and read his poems; Geldof lowers his head and closes his eyes as if praying along in church. Bono analyses ruthlessly, and Shawn McGowan seems stoned out of his mind. When we’re not talking, we are touring and visiting the romantic and wild places Yeats loved and the ornate salons where his patrons hung out. This list of his works read here far exceeds my space here; just know you’ll hear the famous and obscure here, and these speakers can sell the goods.
The main event is 90 minutes, and then there are two additional disks. One has nearly 100 poems; the readers include Steven Fry, Liam Nisson, Sting, Bono, Edna O’Brian, Lisa Dwan, Van Morrison…the list is long and illustrious. The poetry celebrates the glorious Irish past, the dreams of the lower class, the anger and frustration with the distant and uncaring aristocracy. There’s a melancholy mood, grey as clouds yet flashes of brilliant green keep hope alive.