Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Festival honours go to the powerful Antigone

The curtain falls on the first Ulster Bank Festival at Queen's tomorrow — and it's been a pretty good fortnight on the drama front, with plenty of those quirky, memorable shows that we only see at this time of year.

There's still plenty to see before the lights go out. Festival honours go to Owen McCafferty's powerful retelling of Antigone which is still on stage at the Waterfront Studio. Grab a ticket and watch a masterclass in acting by three old hands - Ian McElhinney, Walter McGonagle and Harry Towb.

Footsbarn Travelling Theatre's magical production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is still in the big top in Ormeau Park. The show, which has a decidedly international air, is perfect for Festival — exciting location, exotic performances. Fingers crossed Footsbarn returns to Belfast soon.

Elsewhere, Corn Exchange has swapped Memphis for Munster for its highly successful production of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, which runs at Stranmillis College Theatre until Festival ends tomorrow evening.

And there's still a chance to see local company Kabosh's premiere of Lucy Caldwell's play Carnival, which is taking place inside the Speigeltent in Custom House Square.

And don't forget the Stewart Parker conference, taking place in Queen's University this weekend.

If you've seen every one of those shows, but still fancy a night out, you might want to make your way to Downpatrick where Happenstance Theatre Company is performing a special play in advance of Remembrance Sunday.

Stephen Macdonald's play Not About Heroes tells the story of the friendship between Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, from the moment the pair met at Craiglockart War Hospital in 1917. The play marks the 90th anniversary of Owen's death, and explores the question of courage and the barbarity of war.

Dennis Silk, longtime friend of Sassoon, will be in Northern Ireland to deliver a lecture on the poet, and will attend the performance of Not About Heroes when it's performed at Down Arts Centre next Friday.

And love is in the air at Clotworthy Arts Centre on Monday, where Charlotte Bronte's love story Jane Eyre will be performed. Madness, passion, retribution and self-fulfilment are all played out against the landscape of the Yorkshire Moors in this romantic tale, which is on stage for one night only.

There's drama of a more immediate nature at the Grand Opera House in Belfast, where the Baby Grand is playing host to a production called The Bomb.

It's based on the true story of Jo Berry, whose father Sir Anthony Berry was killed in the IRA's bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984. The man who planted the bomb was Patrick Magee. In 2000, Jo and Patrick met for the first time and — despite their shared history — became friends.

The Bomb is inspired by these events — as the clock ticks, a mother and daughter's relationship is thrown into turmoil when they confront the past. Three characters search for peace in a place beyond retribution.

The Bomb starts ticking this evening, and you can see it again tomorrow night.



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