A funny old game

Father Ted writer pens football musical

Father Ted creator Arthur Mathews has written a musical about Manchester United and Ireland star Roy Keane.

I, Keano opens in Dublin next month, and is based on the infamous 2002 World Cup bust-up between the midfielder and Ireland manager Mick McCarthy.

Keane devastated Irish hopes in the competition by flying back home following a fierce row about training facilities before a ball had even been kicked.

Now Mathews, with collaborator Michael Nugent, has reset the drama to ancient Roman times, with a legion preparing for battle on a Mediterranean island, only for the general,  Macartacus, facing a leadership challenge from his greatest warrior, Keano.

Mathews admits he got the idea after seeing the controversial Jerry Springer - The Opera on stage and thinking it was “a brilliant idea”.

He told the Sunday Times Ireland: “To turn the McCarthy-Keane thing into a musical is ludicrous.

“It’s even more ludicrous to set it in Roman times. You can’t really take people seriously when they’re dressed in togas.

“Of course, people will say what’s the point of that, it’s stupid. And they’re right.”

And although the show makes satirical points about Keane’s behaviour, the media frenzy that followed it and Ireland’s obsession with a football tournament, Matthews said that was not an obvious intention.

“I always think you shouldn’t set out to do something satirical, though you may find yourself making jokes that are satirical,” he says. “I think what I do is just silly. It’s not to be taken too seriously.”

* I, Keano runs at the Olympia, Dublin from February 3 to 17. Click here for tickets.

Published: 17 Jan 2005

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