People told me I have to act my age - thank God my character is just eight

Gerry Doherty, pictured at the Journal offices this week. DER4214MC014
Gerry Doherty, pictured at the Journal offices this week. DER4214MC014

Actor Gerry Doherty who plays the unforgettable S’Hugo in ‘From the Camp to the Creggan’ reflects on why life is great now he’s back in short trousers

The trick when talking to barman Gerry Doherty about his role in ‘From the Camp to the Creggan’ is not to mention one particular scene.

I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.

We wouldn’t want him to get a slagging down the pub.

But for those of you who don’t know the scene takes three and a half minutes, involves S***ty Kitty, S’Hugo Kelly and a lot of huffing and puffing.

“There are scenes in every play that you don’t particularly like and you cringe knowing they are coming up,” says Gerry.

“And people who’ve seen the play will know which one I’m talking about.

“Carmel’s the same as me. Both of us know it’s coming and we just have to get through it. People tell us it’s a really funny scene.

“That’s the way it is with this play. There are times when it’s so funny that you want to laugh yourself but you can’t.

“Then there scenes where you can laugh as well. One of my favourites is when Paddy ‘Pee the Bed’ comes in wearing his cowboy gear and we all have a good laugh at him.”

The next fortnight will be a tricky balancing act for Gerry as he prepares for the play.

By night he’s the barman at Murray B’s pub on Lone Moor Road but on his days off Gerry dons a pair of short trousers and plays with an invisible bicycle as the lovable S’Hugo Kelly.

“Playing an eight year-old kid you can get away with murder - it’s good craic,” said Gerry.

“When people tell me to act my age I just tell them that I’m only eight.

“The rehearsals are great, at one point I flip Carmel on to a mattress and a couple of times we’ve put our backs out. For a bunch of eight years old, we have bad backs.”

But stripping the comedy away - Gerry reflects on the very human social story that is told through S’Hugo’s mother and father in the play.

“The narrator, me when I’m older, played by Seamas Heaney, reflects on the abysmal conditions in Springtown Camp and in some of tenements at the time.

“Then again it was a time when wanes got invisible bikes for Christmas, now all children want is computers. Maybe there’s something to be said for the people back then who had nothing, they were closer together.

“I remember my own mother telling me how she got an orange in her stocking at Christmas and her doll was a brick wrapped in a gown she crocheted.”

Gerry performed in the play last year, and he said he was amazed at how quickly the script came back to him

“We’ve been sharpening it up,” he said.

“But those nerves never go away on the night.

Once you’re on the stage, the nerves kick in and you ask yourself why am I putting myself through this?

“ We might look like we are all carrying on but in reality we are s***ting ourselves. “

From the Camp to the Creggan, written and directed by Brian Foster will open in the Millennium Forum on Tuesday night and runs until Saturday.

Tickets are available from the Box office at www.millenniumforum.co.uk or on 71264455.