Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Long Kesh prison drama to play on a bigger stage

Negotiations are under way to take a controversial new play about one of Northern Ireland’s most notorious prisons to top theatres in London and New York after it won a major award at the Edinburgh festival.

Playwright Martin Lynch is currently holding talks with four theatres in London about staging his play, Chronicles of Long Kesh, which was voted the best ensemble production in the Edinburgh fringe.

And theatre bosses in New York are also bidding to bring the play there.

“The reaction has been quite amazing,” says Lynch.

“No sooner had everyone got back home from Scotland than the phone started to ring with offers from English theatres whose artistic directors had either seen the play or read the reviews.”

Almost all of the critics were enthusiastic about Lynch’s play which was staged for the first time earlier this year at the Waterfront Hall studios in Belfast.

The play tells the stories of republican and loyalist prisoners in Long Kesh.

Lynch says audiences loved it.

“We weren’t sure how it would transfer from Belfast to Scotland, especially as audiences are drawn from all over the world,” he says.

“But it was an instant winner especially as there is so much music and so much humour as well as pathos.

“We got lots of four and five star critiques from the reviewers and we were delighted to win the best ensemble award from the prestigious Stage newspaper,” said Lynch, who has always dreamt of having one of his plays staged in London’s West End.

Even before any deals are signed with London venues, Lynch’s Greenshoot Productions company are planning a tour of Ireland and other regional theatres in England and Scotland before opening in London, probably in the spring of next year.

Several well-known figures from the arts and entertainment world who saw the play in Edinburgh are helping to promote it.

Actor Alan Rickman and comedian Mark Thomas met the cast after their performances to offer their support.

But the month-long run in Edinburgh was hit by an unexpected problem.

One performance had to be cancelled after actor Chris Corrigan sustained a back injury during a fight scene.

Corrigan underwent physiotherapy to enable him to resume his role in the play but only after the action had been reorganised to ensure the injury couldn’t happen again.

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