by Owen McCafferty
National Theatre, London
Review by Claire Allfree, Metro, 14 April 2003
A young husband is having an affair; his wife, meanwhile, is desperate for a baby. Another couple are waiting to see, whether the police have found the body of their son shot 15 years previously. A drug dealer is making plans to leave the city while periodically beating up his junkie girlfriend, A much older couple who run a shop are living in fear of the local hooligans while waiting on hospital test results. Two more sons are burying their father and, with him, their differences
Owen McCafferty's modern-day Belfast is a bleak place, but director Peter Gill finds some lyricism in this ambitious piece of writing, which links scenes from a cross-section of a close community into a multi-narrative whole.
McCafferty gets up close and then draws away from his characters, like a camera; Gill, meanwhile, negotiates the play's rapid scene changes by utilising the entire cast, who sit at the side when not on stage, as though witnesses to the bigger picture framing their lives.
The city's politics are everywhere, impacting on individuals even though few address them directly; death and burial are poetic themes as much as literal ones, A long evening (2hr 45), but a moving and involving one.
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