John McDonagh – ‘Off the Meter’
John McDonagh – ‘Off the Meter’
At the Abbey Arts Centre.
On 08th of October 2022
Doors open at 19.30
Book online at:https://abbeycentre.ticketsolve.com/shows/1173624802
Donegal Bay & Bluestacks Festival 2022 is delighted to present John McDonagh – NYC Yellow Cabbie – ‘Off the Meter’
How it’s New York: It’s a 40-year history of NYC through the eyes of a yellow cab driver.
How it’s Irish: Creator, and Cabbie, John McDonagh, is Irish and these performances are part of Origin’s 1st Irish Festival. And “Off the Meter” was originally directed by Irish Rep’s Ciaran O’Reilly.
Veteran of both the US Army and the NYC cab, “Off The Meter” creator John McDonagh
John McDonagh shares his New York views COURTESY Rory Duffy
TAKING THE STAGE
John McDonagh goes from cab door to cabaret stage COURTESY Rory Duffy
What better guide to NYC could a person possibly have than a time-served cab driver, with Irish heritage? And the seventy or so minutes in the company of John McDonagh for his one man show, “Off The Meter” do not disappoint.
Now in its fifth year on stage, “Off The Meter” offers a topsy-turvy journey through the New York streets McDonagh’s yellow cab has been patrolling since he first got his ‘Hack Card’ in the late ‘70s. Although he quips that he has been a commentator on the “traffic and weather every 10 minutes for the past 40-years”, John has witnessed much more than that.
From inevitable brushes with NYC’s poor and needy to serving as makeshift ambulance for Williamsburg hipsters on the brink of giving birth, John has also carved out a niche as the media’s go to Cabbie-Friday and set himself up as something of a citizen activist.
After near misses with the reality shows “Amazing Race” and “Taxi cab wars“, the Queens native found more success with the forays of Brit TV personalities Stephen Fry and Richard Hammond on this side of The Pond.
Activist at work
But, as implied by his proletarian garb (of dark, collarless, hemp shirt & beret-like, backward newsboy cap), McDonagh has never shied away from more meaningful matters and is also a veteran presenter of the long-running show, Radio Free Eirann on WBAI.
So it comes as little surprise that one of his most passionate stories is about how he rallied New York cabbies to oppose the war in Iraq, when Bush brought the Republican convention to town in 2004. McDonagh even managed to infiltrate Fox News, to share his C.A.B. group’s offer to take any delegate to the airport to fly to Iraq and fight on their behalf.
It’s all a long way from the self-effacing 60-something who began his show by disarming the audience with the humble lot of the cab driver, which, seemingly, the New York Times has implied is worse than that of heroin addicts and whose plight McDonagh describes as less desirable than that of the carriage horses in Central Park.
As promised, this show is a celebration of how one particular driver of a yellow taxi pops his head above his meter and lets his opinions be more widely known. There can be no greater testament to the power of his voice than being invited to lead the “Bards of Gridlock” readings at the prestigious PEN literary festival in 2013.
Whilst McDonagh makes no secret of the fact that, like most people, he never intended to make driving a cab their job-for-life, he does not openly admit that his true ambition was more squarely in the public eye. But this one-man show says it all.
With original direction by the Irish Rep’s Producing Director, Ciaran O’Reilly, and a scrapyard set culled from a cab garage, “Off The Meter” has become John McDonagh’s vital vehicle for keeping alive an authentic spirit of a gritty New York City that is being gentrified into oblivion.