REVIEW: CHRONICLES OF LONG KESH, Tricycle Theatre
FIVE STAR RATING A superb cast of six deliver maximum power with minimum props in these episodes from Northern Ireland s grim Long Kesh prison during the 1970s an
Review CHRONICLES OF LONG KESH
By MARTIN LYNCH
At TRICYCLE THEATRE
Reviewer NICK EISEN
Star rating * * * * *
A superb cast of six deliver maximum power with minimum props in these episodes from Northern Ireland's grim Long Kesh prison during the 1970s and 1980s.
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The performers punctuate scenes by belting out rock classics, like a contrasting chorus to their imprisonment. But the songs are not imposed on the drama, they are part of it - the way the singers let out their defiance and sorrow.
Similarly the political analysis emerges from the characters; it is not forced into their mouths.
The singing climaxes just before the interval with a high-octane version of Alright Now that feels worthy of a rock concert finale, although the only instrumental support for the voices is one drum and a lot of skilled banging on the boxes that form David Craig's stark and flexible set.
In an evening combining skilled ensemble acting with powerful individual performances, Jo Donnelly, Marc O'Shea and Andy Moore show great adaptability, and Marty Maguire is as stirring as a lead vocalist as he is as Oscar, the republican whose friendship with fellow inmate Eamonn forms one of the play's main axes.
Oscar is flamboyant, like Wilde, his namesake. In contrast, Eamonn's power, ably evoked by Chris Corrigan, comes from his reserve.
The thread that makes these chronicles more cohesive than most episodic theatre is Freddie (Billy Clarke), the prison officer whose breakdown before his experience of sectarianism reaches a striking nadir in his drunken soliloquy with a pistol.
Perhaps Martin Lynch's powerful focus on the people behind the terrorism makes it too easy to forget the suffering the paramilitaries - and others - caused, albeit in a brutalising world, and it is difficult for outsiders to judge the play's technical accuracy, but playwright Martin Lynch's piece feels true in spirit, its ideas, comedy and tragedy emerging from a coherent and moving whole.