A day in the strife
by Owen McCafferty
National Theatre, London
Review by Kevin O'Sullivan, Daily Mirror, 11 April 2003
A SHOWER of meteorites is due to light up the skies over Belfast.
Some believe the stellar display will signal the beginning of the end of the world.
But for one of the most, troubled cities on the face of the earth, this is the kind of foreboding that has never been far away.
This stunning play is the story of 24 hours in the life of Ulster's strife-torn capital.
But throughout two and a half hours of mesmerising theatre, what emerges is that, in most respects, Belfast is no different to any other place.
Drugs, crime, marital discord, conception problems, dead-end jobs and drudgery -- the crises here are universal.
Writer Owen McCafferty's excellent work is made, all the more gripping by some of the best acting I have seen in a long while. None of the 20-strong cast is a household name. But they damn well should be.
McCafferty's work has a refreshing lack of that familiar cosy ending, where all the different strands come together.
Through the prolonged torture of anguished parents Dave Black (Derrnot Crowley) and his wife Theresa (Frances Tomelty), we encounter a true Belfast tragedy.
After 15 years, their murdered son is found -buried in a makeshift grave. Meanwhile, Paul and Harry Foggarty (Ruairi Conaghan. and Stuart McQuarrie) visit their dead. father's allotment patch to discover a cache of hidden weapons.
After beating his junkie girlfriend half to death, drugs dealer Robbie Mullin (Chris Corrigan is kneecapped by loyalist gunmen for refusing to pay protection money.
Maeve (Aoife McMahon) is obsessed with the fact she can't have children. Her husband Joe (Patrick O'Kane) turns to the local barmaid for sexual comfort. Ron Donachie as Bobbie Torbett, Gerard Jordan as Cooper Jones and Elaine Cassidy as Maggie Lyttle were also in fine form.
This is a great play distinguished by brilliant acting. What more could you ask for?
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