‘Brendan Galileo For Europe’ is an award-winning, one man show, written and performed by Fionn Foley. Set against the backdrop of the Eurovision Song Contest, it is a timely look at European politics. The show debuted at the Dublin Fringe Festival and following its success there, embarks on a UK and Ireland tour in June through to August. It will play for one night in Belfast’s Lyric Theatre on 15th June.
The play centres around Brendan Galileo (Fionn Foley) who is determined to make his mark on Irish political life. He sets his sights on joining the ranks of the European Parliament. However, with his voice so lost in a sea of tribal bureaucracy, he must take drastic action to improve his public profile. He must represent his country in the most vicious diplomatic cat fight on the continent, the Eurovision Song Contest. Fresh from an initial run at the Dublin Fringe Festival, Fionn Foley embarks on a Irish & UK tour with an hilarious play about keeping your integrity at the world’s foremost convention of kitsch. The show has garnered a lot of attention, winning awards for ‘Best Performer’ and ‘Bewleys’ Little Gem’ at Dublin Fringe Festival 2018. and was also nominated for ‘Best New Play’, ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Actor’ in the Broadway Ireland Regional Awards 2018.
When asked what the audience can expect from the play, writer Fionn Foley told us: ‘The show is first and foremost a comedy about a young politician’s attempt to save his grandmother’s school of music from destruction. He becomes totally disillusioned with conventional politics and decides that Eurovision may actually be a more powerful and influential tool than anything else. Expect plenty of nuggets for Eurovision fanatics and hilarious glimpses at some of the Contest’s more memorable moments through the years. It’s a love letter to Eurovision and Europe and a very fun night out (if I do say so myself)’.
In the one man show Fionn goes it alone on stage, but he sees it as ‘…a chance for an actor to really indulge themselves in a way that they might not normally. I play about 8-10 characters in the show as well as doing the voice-over for around ten others. There’s a huge satisfaction in trying to bring the expansive magic of the Eurovision to a solo show, and I think that’s what we achieve with ‘Brendan Galileo for Europe’. However once you’re up there, it’s all on you. Nobody’s going to save you if something goes wrong. Which thankfully, it never has- in a spectacular way anyway. Luckily, the show has an incredible team of hugely talented and supportive people. Jeda de Brí, Sinéad Purcell, David Doyle and Nic Burke are absolutely the best at what they do and make the whole experience of touring the show an absolute joy and a fantastic adventure’.
Fionn’s previous roles include TV parts in ‘Into the Badlands’, ‘Vikings’, Irish Language soap ‘Ros na Rún’ and the IFTA-nominated EIPIC. Fionn is a huge Eurovision fan and remarked that ‘It’s not just the performances themselves, but the enormity of the night as a cultural event. Its history is bizarre and brilliant and there really is nothing else quite like it in the world. I knew that if I committed to writing something about Eurovision, that I would never get bored of writing it or indeed performing it. So far, I have been correct!’
Blending the signature wit which has marked Foley as one of Ireland’s leading young writers with an award-winning performance, ‘Brendan Galileo for Europe’ couldn’t be more current, touring in the aftermath of recent European Parliament elections held at the end of May. And on the subject of International Politics (and despite the Contest’s attempt to remain apolitical), politics often permeates Eurovision. This was definitely the case in 2019 when the show was hosted in Tel Aviv. Fionn comments that ‘I didn’t watch Eurovision this year as I believe it’s of great importance to support the BDS movement and draw attention to the atrocities being committed by the Israeli government. That said, I was sorry to have to miss it this time, as I do believe it’s a night where nations can leave aside their differences. But some things can’t be ignored’.
Fionn may not have watched this year’s Contest, but he has a great love of the rich history the Contest has. When we pushed him to name his favourite all time Eurovision song he managed to narrow it down to three. These favourite songs ranged from one of the earlier Contests ‘Poupée de cire, poupée de son’ by Luxembourg’s France Gall (1965) to Telex’s 1980 entry for Belgium entitled ‘Eurovision’ and Zlata Ognevich’s 2013 song ‘Gravity’ for Ukraine.
In 2019 Ireland’s Sarah McTernan finished last in her Semi Final and UK’s Michael Rice came last in the Grand Final with a paltry 11 points. We asked Fionn where does he think it’s going wrong for the two nations that were once Eurovision stalwarts. He said: ‘There seems to be a trend within the Ireland and UK to want to ‘mimic’ what they see as successful formulas of recent years. Eurovision is nothing if not unpredictable. I think all the best Eurovision winners have been really quite original in their concepts, and not trying to predict what is going to be popular or timely. I think both Ireland and the UK need to go back to taking chances on bold and unique performers and writers. We have very little to lose by taking risks’.
The show which is directed by Jeda de Brí has also been a huge hit with critics. The Irish Times described Foley’s performance a ‘irresistible’ while Broadway World remarked that it was a ‘…fast-paced, witty and terribly funny..sixty minutes of mental gymnastics and belly laughter’.
If you like the sound of ‘Brendan Galileo for Europe’, tickets are on sale now!
Dates and Booking Info
14 June Draiocht, Blanchardstown
15 June Lyric Theatre, Belfast
17 June- 6 July Bewley’s Cafe Theatre, Dublin
31 July- 26 August Assembly, Georges Square (Edinburgh Festival Fringe)