The wolf went mental

When we suggest Gavin do his ‘Vincent Price’ on Prokoviev’s Peter and the Wolf he says: “The Shag Tobacco man? I can’t do that, it’s for children.”
Kids there are plenty, mainly on the ‘friends, family and fans’ side. They’ve come to support Mr. G., or Uncle Gav. The non partisan part of the divided audience wonder who this Friday feller is. Although introduced as the ‘star of the night’, they ask each other: “We never see him in the charts?”
Put the man behind a lectern and the wolf confined tries to escape. Beneath the stately chandeliers and county banners of St Patrick’s Hall, Friday radiates rock chic in stark contrast with these ‘evening dress’ surroundings. The boy from Ballymun’s given permission to use the Taoiseoch’s playground… As with anything he does, the evening’s slightly surreal.
The orchestra has the floor, which means Gavin’s at the back, nonetheless demanding all attention. The story unfolds, he relaxes, finding his cues. Kids and adults alike are enchanted. He thrives, not on his diction — which could be better, nor rehearsal — there was little or none.
It’s a lifetime of experience in playing an audience for guts and glory that overcomes the shyness, the nervousness in this new setting. Always the physical performer, the drop of a shoulder and sleight of hand turn the story slightly less than kiddie proof. Who’d have thought a wolf eating a duck could be big time sensuality?
There are little Friday twists to the words: the birdies scarper up the tree, no love lost between them. The wolf, caught in Peter’s trap, goes ‘mental’. Then he ends the evening with a quick ‘quack quack’.
Laughter and applause fill the room, while old pal Guggi turns to Mother Friday: ‘That was brilliant!’. And the kids who’ve found their way to the off limits balcony cheer the loudest.
This Peter and the Wolf performance was part of the Con Anima musical evening in support of The Irish Hospice Foundation, State Apartments, Dublin Castle, November 21, 2000