Daragh Carville is acting a bit chipper at the moment; a tad cat-that-got-the-cream and everything else in the fridge. We're not talking Martin McDonagh here. His second play isn't on at the National, and he hasn't yet had the chance to publicly insult Sean Connery (as our Martin did at last year's Evening Standard Awards), but the 27-year-old is settling into this playwriting lark faster than you can say "young turk".
His first play, Grandfather Grave, was selected for the Royal Court Writers' Festival in 1991. His second, Language Roulette, enjoyed glowing reviews and a sell-out run at Belfast's Old Museum Theatre last year, and is now about to fill the shoes of Dublin wunderkind Conor McPherson's St Nicholas at the Bush. And there's not a hint of nerves about the transfer. "I'm extremely cocky about it, actually," explains the Armagh-born writer and arts administrator. "It's going to be fan-bloody-tastic. My next play is getting an airing in April, too, so I plan to spend the whole month getting rat-arsed."
Carville is no stranger to the black stuff, if Language Roulette is anything to go by. Centred around the reunion, in a pub, of an aspiring writer with some old Belfast mates after years away on the Continent, its rounds of twentysomething banter are toxed-up with gallons of lager and lashings of coloured pills. It is performed in genuinely inebriated style by Tinderbox TC to blasts of Oasis and Stereolab. The play takes its title from a game that Carville picked up while Euro wandering (like his central character) in which the idea is to bad-mouth passers-by in English as cheerily as possible and hope that they don't understand.
Although spurred to write the play after coming home at the beginning of the 1994-6 ceasefire, Carville insists that the political situation is only the backdrop to a more intimate drama. "It's about being in your mid-twenties, now; about using pop trivia to avoid discussing your feelings, and how eventually that cannot continue. I'm trying to write plays about Northern Ireland that don't fit into the usual categories. Everyone is sick of sombre Troubles dramas. It seems that if you want to approach huge issues, you end up using journalese and my generation has become numb to that."
He's currently finishing off his third, (lottery-funded) play, again for Tinderbox, entitled Dumped and set around a rubbish skip. "I'm thrilled with it. It's bloody brilliant," he says. Sounds like it won't be long before he takes a swipe at Sean Connery. Carville protests."I wouldn't dare take him on. He's too big. Now Roger Moore, on the other hand..."
EYE ON THE NEW
You've seen (or feel you've seen) The English Patient. Why not overdose on Anthony Minghella by checking out the first staging of his 1988 radio play Cigarettes and Chocolate, about a woman who gives up speaking. It's set in north London - which goes without saying, really. Man in the Moon, King's Road, London SW3 (0171-351 2876) Tue to 26 Apr