Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Story of the ‘Big Man’ is amplified on stage

Megaphone diplomacy: Dan Gordon plays Paisley

News this week that the Reverend Ian Paisley has returned to public life just months after a serious illness may have been greeted with whoops in a dressing room at the Grand Opera House.

The Big Man steps back into the spotlight just as — well, just as the Big Man steps back into the spotlight at the Grand Opera House, in Green Shoots Productions’ new show, Paisley And Me.

Ron Hutchinson’s drama — starring Dan Gordon as Paisley — is the second instalment in the company’s Ulster Trilogy, following on from Sam Millar’s drama Brothers In Arms. While Millar concentrated on republican reaction to peace, Hutchinson focuses on repercussions in the Protestant community.

Hutchinson — originally from Islandmagee — is best-known for his two Northern Irish dramas, Rat In The Skull and Pygmies In The Ruins. He moved to America 30 years ago to work as a screenwriter, and was persuaded back by fellow playwright Martin Lynch, who approached him with this idea. The ‘Me’ is Hutchinson.

“My parents were both Protestants,” he said. “The only thing I ever saw them fight about was Ian Paisley.”

And so he began to work on a drama about the life of one of the most divisive figures in recent history — the preacher, politician and former First Minister of Northern Ireland, who spent years saying “no”, and then finally surprised almost everyone by saying “yes” to power-sharing here.

Hutchinson hopes to explore the influence Paisley has wielded down the years, although he’s said he’s aware that he’s writing about a man whose story is not yet finished. And it’s not just a story about politics, just as Paisley is not merely a politician. Religion plays a major part in the narrative.

Rather than capturing the obvious characteristics of the man, Dan Gordon will be aiming to pin down the essence of ‘Big Ian’.

Hutchinson describes it as a highly personal play, in which he tries to resolve the one thing his parents argued about. Now that he’s again fighting fit, who knows whether Paisley fancies a night out to see it for himself...

Paisley And Me, Grand Opera House, today until Saturday, various times

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News

Horoscopes

Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant

Cancer:

Your career has been undergoing some dramatic changes. At long last, you'll have a chance to slow down and catch your breath. Getting used to a new set of responsibilities will take time and patience. Try not to be hard on yourself when you struggle with unfamiliar concepts. Nobody expects perfection, especially at this stage of the game. The more gentle you are with yourself, the easier it will be to master this role. If you're out of work, take this opportunity to rest and reflect on future possibilities.More