Michael Collins

Mary Kenny

Brian Gilbert

New Theatre, Dublin; Reform Club, London

Additional Cast:
Mel Smith

One-off performance in September 2005

Excerpt from a review by the London Independent critic Roderick Dunnett on 20 September 2005:

"With Mel Smith as Churchill and Irish actor Brendan Coyle as Collins, staged as a one-off in a cut version that works staggeringly well and directed with masterly economy by Brian Gilbert, Allegiance is a witty reimagining of the canny duelling and curt repartee that led Churchill and Collins to metamorphose almost overnight from bitter foes to sparring partners to bosom pals.

Sly, wily, subtle – and cryptic….Smith is a sensational Churchill: this was no puny parody.  His and Coyle’s perfect pacing mirrored Kenny’s finely mapped medley of shifting emotions.”


The story of the meeting between the Irish Republican Michael Collins and Winston Churchill at Churchill's private residence, it explores the unlikely fascination that grew between Collins and Churchill.

In 1921 his friend and leader Eamon de Valera ordered Michael Collins to travel to London, with the Irish delegation, to negotiate the Treaty that followed the Truce and the War of Independence. Churchill was Colonial Secretary in charge of Ireland, and the two men were prepared to detest one another.

Yet, at a point when the Treaty talks seemed to be stagnated, Churchill and Collins spent a night drinking together, talking, arguing, even singing and reciting poetry. They emerged from this session fascinated by each other, and formed an unlikely friendship which helped decide the fate of two warring nations.

  • First given a public reading in Dublin, at the New Theatre, and subsequently in London, at the Reform Club.

  • The public reading was filmed by Third Man Films, but is unavailable for viewing.  The play moved to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2006, with Michael Fassbender taking over the Michael Collins role.

Allegiance (2005)