In the last 2 years Neil Watkins has been on a rollercoaster tour as an actor and he is acutely aware of the unique privilege it was. His brilliance was probably first noted in public sense when his character Heidi Konnt won the Alternative Miss Ireland, going on from there to a Christmas cabaret musical show with just Heidi and the handsome piano guy.
Neil the actor though yearned to express himself in the written word and his first one man show, performed barefooted in a suit, was a major success. Cheekily and charmingly entitled The Year Of Magical Wanking it toured internationally and he was off on a one man show directed by Philly McMahon. Neil got to go on stage and tell his tale of development, spiritual fulfilment and sexual expression to a vast array of audiences. The show carefully plotted the course of his existence back to his grandfather while openly discussing his greatest foibles, celebrated his own human nature and all done in beautiful rhyming verse.
Well the tour ended, Neil came home to Ireland and was in much need of sucker. Rather than plot a course for his family home to be fed, mollycoddled and nourished he moved to Dublin 8 and then a series of accidents led him to a therapeutic return and a new show.
The Fumbally has transformed Clanbrassil Street (well, New Street, strictly) from a large dual-carriageway style section of D8 to be avoided into a coffee and food destination. Neil began working there, working with food. On his first day staff fed him pulled pork and Italian delicacies. The Fumbally is grounded in reality, something Watkins now yearned for more than show, more than being on stage; he needed to be real again, to be humble. The Fumbally reminded him of reality. This now central part of the artistic community was a space for Neil to recharge and again quite by accident working here meant he kept bumping into artistes, excellent people, committed creative locals. Musicians like Steven Miller, food artisans and food nerds like Aisling Rogerson and Katie Sanderson. It was here, in The Fumbally, he had that chat with Róise Goan about having a show in this year’s fringe.
“It was during the time of the lovely weather, I just rang around a few people and everyone was keen, eager and positive. Will you do this, will we just do it?” And lo Neil Watkins Dinner and a Show was incepted. It had begun.
Neil Watkins Dinner And A Show runs from September 17th to 20th in the old Whiskey Distillery on Mill Street, Dublin 8. Its €30 a ticket and you will get a five-course meal, music, dancing and the man himself Neil Watkins, grounded performer singing with The Buffalo Women, Sean Miller and Tim O’Donovan.