Vernon Little lives in a flea–bitten Texan town, “the barbeque sauce capital of the state”, where his best friend has just massacred sixteen of his classmates. The town wants vengeance and turns its sights on the innocent Vernon.
As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and Vernon hits the road and flees to Mexico, pursued by a media circus of outlandish proportions.
‘Vernon God Little’ is a riotous, irreverent adventure with a fast-talking fifteen year old who cruelly ends up on a version of death row driven by the rules of reality TV. Desperate times create the most unlikely of heroes. Vernon’s innate innocence exposes the nature of the American experience of justice in the eye of a media storm, and since he’s a boy of such sweetness, he makes death row a respectable address.
Director Andrew Flynn first read ‘Vernon God Little’ back in 2003 and was “just blown away” by it. “It’s a first time novel, I never heard of the author DBC Pierre before. What fascinated me about the book was he had taken a subject that was extremely tragic and devastating and actually written an entertaining funny novel out of it. He tapped into something at the time of the X Factor frenzy that had exploded in the world and brought it into this story of this young boy who is completely innocent and is in some ways being tried by the media because someone on telly makes him look guilty.”
When Andrew saw the work that American writer Tanya Ronder had done to turn the novel into a hit play in London, he knew he had to bring it to the stage in Galway and tell us a story which is not actually about a shooting, but about a young man trying to prove his innocence. “People start to see this very sweet innocent boy as a psychopath when actually he’s completely the opposite so it’s extremely funny.”
While the story is about a tragic incident and the backdrop is devastating, the story is very character focused. “The play is about the aftermath of the incident and how the person who did the shooting is dead but people want to be able to attach the blame to someone and they just assumed that he had to have help. The young guy who was his best friend all along who had nothing to do with it is put in the frame but the real story is about another character called Larry who is a con man and a chancer. He sees an opportunity to create hype and he rents a camera and starts to shoot the story from an angle and the angle is what goes out and suddenly someone who is completely innocent is being deemed bad and guilty and he is forced to go on the run.”
While on the road with Vernon the audience is treated to live music by the Life Buoys. “Live music is a massive feature in the play so the way we’ve decided to do it, we have a cast of eight actors and we have a live band that are absolutely brilliant. They’re a bluegrass style band so there’s live music running right through the show and it’s that whole Hank Williams, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash kind of world that underscores and provides a backdrop against the play. For music lovers, this is something to see. They are just fantastic.”
The show will have something for everyone and promises to be one that will stick in the memory. “It’s got comedy, it’s got a great soundtrack, it’s got great characters and there is genuine tender moments and quite beautiful moments but it’s a rollercoaster ride and very, very entertaining.”
Starring Jarlath Tivnan in the lead role, ‘Vernon God Little’ opens in the Town Hall Theatre on Thursday, 3 September and runs until Saturday, 12 September with doors at 8pm. Tickets cost €18/€15. For more information, visit www.tht.ie.