by David Ireland.
Jerwood Theatre Upstairs to 07 May
Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London SW1W 8AS to 7 May 2016.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm. Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 30mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7565 5000
Thought provoking play about sectarian madness; powerful performances.
David Ireland’s play starts off as a deceptively hilarious affair as Stephen Rea’s conflicted Ulster protestant Eric, not a man from a protestant ghetto but a well off businessman who lives at a smart address, the avenue of the title, decides his new five week old grand daughter looks like Gerry Adams. He is appalled. Nobody believes him and he draws a beard in marker pen on the baby’s face to prove his point, falls out spectacularly with his wife and daughter – we never do find out who is the baby’s father – and then things start to go very dark indeed as he is interviewed by a psychiatrist.
Gradually it emerges something has happened. What we get is a portrait of all the things that mess up Irish society in Ulster – are the loyalists Irish, or are they British? It is about the troubles that have beset that unhappy island and which still underpin society there in spite of peace talks and reconciliation and Sinn Fein coming in from the cold.
The play provokes, stimulates, enlightens and gets terrific performances. Rea’s Eric, crumpled, hangdog, patently kindly and worried about what is happening, is on top form and gets tremendous support from Amy Molloy as his daughter, Julia Dearden as his uncomprehending wife, and Wunmi Mosaku as the psychiatrist.
The first shocking moment comes when Eric calls her a nigger and she explains that language is not acceptable. There is also a stand up, all systems go turn from Chris Corrigan as a Protestant would be terrorist who turns down a killing on the grounds that it is his night for anger management class.
The play, which opens in a bleached pine almost sterile world, ends in mud, blood and dead bodies all over the place leaving the audience poleaxed forced to confront what people like themselves are capable of doing in the name of religion, nationalism and freedom. It is set in Ulster, but same kind of divisions inside society exist in many other countries from the Balkans to Syria to Pakistan where sectarian divisions have destroyed peaceful co-existence.
Slim: Chris Corrigan.
Bernie: Julia Dearden.
Julie: Amy Molloy.
Bridget: Wunmi Mosaku.
Eric: Stephen Rea.
Director: Vicky Featherstone.
Set & Costume Designer: Lizzie Clachan.
Lighting Designer: Paul Keogan.
Sound Designer: David McSeveney.
Fight Director: Bret Yount.
Dialect Coach: Brendan Gunn.
Voice Director: Andrea Ainsworth.