Brendan at the Chelsea receives critical acclaim off-Broadway

The Lyric Theatre’s production Brendan at the Chelsea has been described as “a must” by the prestigious New York Times – the icing on the cake of critical acclaim in New York.

The NY Times reviewer praised the director and star of the show, Adrian Dunbar, whose “performance alone makes Brendan At The Chelsea a must.” It also described the set and costumes as “vividly evocative” of 1960s New York in which the play is based.

Adrian Dunbar who directs the show as well as starring as the notorious Irish writer, Brendan Behan has been the focus of much critical acclaim, described as “mesmerizing” and “remarkable” while the influential Huffington Post drew attention to his “terrific cast”. Janet Behan, Brendan’s niece, who wrote the play is praised too for delivering “a thoughtful, revelatory – and, ultimately, celebratory – peek into an extraordinary life.”

New Yorkers have reveled in the play’s portrayal of the city. The leading Broadway website, ended its review noting “Brendan at the Chelsea is as much an ode to a New York that once was as it is to a complicated man”.

The show which opened off-Broadway on 5 September has received support from the Irish-American diaspora including the Lyric’s patron, Liam Neeson and Oscar-winning director Terry George, from Belfast. Poet Paul Muldoon and Belfast actress Geraldine Hughes also attended the opening night performance.

It is fitting that this witty drama should do a run off-Broadway as the play is set in the legendary New York bohemian hub, The Chelsea Hotel where a hung-over, destitute Behan stayed in the 1960s.

The New York run at the Acorn Theatre, West 42nd Street, is generously supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the British Council, Culture Ireland, NI Bureau, NI Connections, Tourism Ireland and law firm, A&L Goodbody. See more photos from the opening celebrations, click on off-Broadway.

Brendan at the Chelsea continues at Acorn Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street, until Sunday October 6.  Performances are Tues 7pm; Wed to Fri 8pm, Sat 2pm & 8pm; Sun at 3pm. For tickets in New York, call Telecharge at 212/239-6200, or visit

The play then comes home to Belfast for a limited run on the Danske Bank Stage at the Lyric at the end of October, before touring to Dublin and Londonderry.

Adrian Dunbar said: “It has always been our ambition to take Brendan at the Chelsea to New York – it’s natural home in many ways. After our sell-out run at the Lyric we suggested that it would be a fitting way to thank all our patrons in New York and re-ignite the Lyric touring tradition if Brendan were to return there, and here we are! Thank you Lyric and all our funders.”

The full cast are the talented Belfast actors, Richard Orr and Chris Robinson, Pauline Hutton from Derry and English actress Samantha Pearl.

Brendan at the Chelsea returns home to the Lyric Theatre, Belfast from 30 Oct to 10 Nov. The show then tours to the Project Arts Centre in Dublin from 12 to 16 Nov and finally performs at the Millennium Forum, Derry 19 & 20 Nov.