The opening of a new comedy play at The Laughter Lounge, Dublin, on Monday, 14th November, about the contested backstory of the Irish coffee, will mark the launch of the venue as a new theatre space in Dublin, alongside its continuing operation as Ireland’s biggest comedy club.
‘The First Irish Coffee’ is written by acclaimed playwright Lee Coffey, directed by award-winning theatre director Tracy Ryan, and stars actors Luke Griffin (HBO’s ‘Band of Brothers’, RTÉ’s ‘The Clinic’ and ‘Pure Mule’) and Aidan Moriarty (‘Translations’, Abbey Theatre, 2022).
The two-man play is set in the 1940s and 1950s, and the actors are playing more than 30 different characters each, including the principal antagonists, Joe Sheridan, who was a barman at Foynes-Shannon Airport in Co Limerick, and Michael Nugent, who owned the Dolphin Hotel, now Dolphin House, in Temple Bar in Dublin. Joe Sheridan and Michael Nugent are each credited with having invented the Irish coffee. The play sets out both sides of their stories and ends by asking the audience to decide which of them did.
The actors also play famous historical characters, including Winston Churchill, who was once entertained at the Dolphin Hotel, and Marilyn Monroe, who was served an Irish coffee by Joe Sheridan during a stopover by her in Shannon Airport in the 1950s.
Commenting on the new play, writer of ‘The First Irish Coffee’ Lee Coffey, whose notable works for the stage include ‘In Our Veins’ (Peacock Stage, Abbey Theatre, 2019) and ‘Leper + Chip’ (Project Arts Centre, 2015), said: “Origin stories, such as this one, are fascinating, vivid and like something from a Hollywood film, and it was great fun to adapt. It’s a crazy play that delves into this colourful and fascinating piece of social history — full of humour, hilarity and hysteria — brought to life by an incredible group of theatre artists, who are all excited to be a part of something new and something different in a new theatre venue in the centre of Dublin.”
Also commenting, director of ‘The First Irish Coffee’ Tracy Ryan, whose other credits include a highly regarded stage production of ‘Trainspotting’ at the Olympia Theatre (2018), said: “I’m delighted to be working with The Laughter Lounge on its first play for the venue. Lee Coffey’s play is a fast-paced comedy in which Luke and Aidan, our two actors, take on over 60 characters as we travel back in time to discover who exactly invented the first Irish coffee. Was it in Limerick or Dublin? It’s something that the audience gets to decide every night.”
At the end of the play, audiences will be further entertained by a pro-whiskey-ologist, who will take to the stage and attempt to beat the Guinness World Record for the most Irish coffees made in three minutes. This element is a homage to a similar challenge running at the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco, which is famous for claiming to be the first bar in America to serve Irish coffee and which today uses Joe Sheridan’s recipe to make its Irish coffees.
‘The First Irish Coffee’ will run for a limited time only, from the 14th to the 26th of November, at The Laughter Lounge, Eden Quay, Dublin 1.
Tickets are available now on www.FirstIrishCoffee.com, priced at €19.95 each. A complimentary Irish coffee is included in the ticket price.