On my radar: Domhnall Gleeson’s cultural highlights

·5 min read
<span>Photograph: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP</span>
Photograph: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

Domhnall Gleeson was born in Dublin in 1983. Following his father, Brendan, into acting, he broke through in 2010 with small but memorable roles in Never Let Me Go, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (as Bill Weasley) and True Grit. He played the lead in Frank and a romantic interest in Brooklyn, though he is probably best known as General Hux in the latest Star Wars trilogy. From 4 to 29 August, Gleeson stars in Enda Walsh’s new play, Medicine, at the Traverse theatre as part of the Edinburgh fnternational festival. He lives in Dublin.

1. Music

Dark Days EP by Yard Act

Yard act
‘Real attitude’: Yard Act. Photograph: Thomas Jackson/Alamy

This Leeds band was recommended to me by a friend who knows a lot about music and whom I always trust. They’re pretty new – this is their first EP – and they’re full of energy (another friend said they reminded him a bit of the Fall). The lyrics are fantastic. Fixer Upper is about a guy named Graeme who is moving into a house to fix it up. He sounds like such a prick, but the lyrics describe him so beautifully. There’s a real sense of character here and real attitude. I’ve booked to see them playing live in Dublin in September – I can’t wait.

2. Theatre

The Saviour, Cork Midsummer festival

I’ve seen a few livestreamed plays during lockdown and it’s very hard to make them work, but this was fantastic. It was written for the stage but rehearsed to be broadcast online, so it’s in that weird in-between that’s almost a new art form. It begins with a woman in her 50s, played by the great Marie Mullen, talking about having had sex the night before – but she’s talking to Jesus about it. Then her son turns up and they have a chat, which turns very serious and troubling. It had me involved from the very beginning, and then just grew and grew.

3. Restaurant

Melzingah Tap House, Beacon, New York

I was just in upstate New York, filming a HBO series about Watergate called The White House Plumbers. Unlike in Ireland, we were allowed to eat inside at restaurants, and Melzingah in Beacon kept me going while I was there. It’s just very relaxed, with really good food and drinks and really nice people. And just getting back to restaurants again, I was like, holy shit! I couldn’t believe my luck. They serve American grub. I would very rarely order chicken anywhere, but they did a chicken breast with crispy skin and dumplings in gravy, and Jesus Christ, it was very, very good.

This cover image released by Knopf shows &#x00201c;Klara and the Sun,&#x00201d; a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. (Knopf via AP)
This cover image released by Knopf shows “Klara and the Sun,” a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. (Knopf via AP)

4. Fiction

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

I’m halfway through the new Kazuo Ishiguro book and loving it, but I got to a bit where I could feel sadness coming, and I thought, I can’t do this right now. So I put it away for a few weeks to simmer. Ishiguro does sadness like no one else. It’s so quietly spoken, but because you lean in to hear it, it just echoes in your mind for so long. It’s about these AIs that are created to keep children company. We follow one of them, Klara, and her hopes and dreams of friendship and desires and beliefs. It’s just so beautiful. But yeah, it’s just a little bit much for me at the moment, so I’m taking a break.

5. Poetry

Tim Key: He Used Thought As a Wife (The Recital)

Tim Key photographed in his office at home for the Guardian arts interview, July 2015 in Kentish Town
Tim Key. Photograph: Alicia Canter/The Guardian

I saw Tim Key do an online reading from his latest book of poetry. It was just him in his apartment, reading out some poems, and it was bizarre. There were moments where I didn’t know what was going on, but I loved it. Daniel Kitson was his guest on that particular night, and I felt like they were privately mocking me for watching, while also letting me see the joke. It was kind of brilliant. Tim Key ended up in the bath at the end of it, fully clothed, reading a poem. There were bubbles involved.

6. Gallery


Dia:Beacon, New York.
Dia:Beacon, New York. Photograph: Alamy

I went to Dia:Beacon in upstate New York, my first time being back in an art gallery since Covid. Man, I had a great couple of hours here – as much for the experience of being in a place built for art as the art itself. In the basement, the main lights were off and it was basically like a rave. They have these incredible strobing light installations in the corners, and this music, which builds up and drops and everyone goes ballistic, even though there’s only 20 people in there. It was so good – like an introduction back into society through music.

7. TV

Conversations With Friends

The TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People was wonderful so I can’t wait to see what the same team do with her earlier book. Lenny Abrahamson, the director, is so great. There’s just a magic when Lenny’s behind the lens: he strips back layers and allows you to see the heart of the performance. I don’t really know who’s in it. As soon as I found out I was too old to play 19, I was like, why would I care? But I’m sure they’ll be spectacular. Even though I’ve read the book and absolutely loved it, I’ve got a feeling that it’ll be different to what I expect.

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