Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Review: National Anthem, Baby Grand, Belfast

Debut Bateman comedy is a hit-and-miss affair ... so it is!

A poet and a musician meet to discuss working together. They don't see eye to eye about the project. This is the plot not only for Alan Bennett's new play, but also that of Colin Bateman's debut stage comedy, National Anthem.

The trademark humour from Bateman’s books has an uneasy transition to stage. But he still has plenty of mileage poking fun at Norn Iron's stereotypes, all of whom lean heavily on the past to find a way through to their futures.

Miche Doherty is Dessie O'Hare, a poet who has fled his west Belfast home for the tranquility of Galway, and whose work leans more heavily on nature than nurture. Stuart Graham plays Gary Miller, composer of Irish muzak, whose albums sell in their millions to gullible Yanks.

They've been brought together to compose a national anthem for our wee country. Their pasts are foreign countries they left behind long ago,and they can find no common ground with each other, or with the new Northern Ireland, in which neither of them live.

Director Rachel O'Riordan leads the cast on a merry chase around the stage of the Baby Grand before they find harmony in the middle of the mayhem.

There are fewer laughs than Bateman fans might have expected but when Conor Mitchell’s anthem is finally aired, you can almost imagine how it will sound when belted out at Windsor Park, so you can.

Grania McFadden

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