Belfast Telegraph

Oh what a not quite so lovely tale of war

By Grania McFadden

This spring, instead of looking forward, many of our current dramatic productions are looking back at a troubled past.

On screen we’ve seen showings of Fifty Dead Men Walking — a fictionalised account of the life of IRA informer Martin McGartland and Five Minutes of Heaven, the gripping story of a killer and his victim’s brother, who grapple with the idea of reconciliation.

In theatre, Seven Jewish Children, Caryl Churchill’s impassioned stage reponse to events in Gaza, was staged by Amnesty International here in Belfast, while Bruiser Theatre Company is currently on tour in Joan Littlewood’s Oh What A Lovely War!

This week, the Grand Opera House has been staging another play about war. For King and Country dramatises the consequences of a young soldier who walks away from the battle at Ypres in 1917.

When an army officer steps forward to defend the young private against charges of desertion, what he learns changes his outlook on war, and he battles to save the young man from the firing squad.

Its themes cast dark shadows today, as thousands of young men still grapple with ideas of duty and sacrifice in foreign fields.

Tristram Powell directs this new production of John Wilson’s classic play, which was first staged in 1964. It’s on stage at the Grand Opera House in Belfast until tomorrow night.

And up the motorway in Londonderry, there’s a play about another man who defied convention, although in his case it was far from the battlefield.

Tomorrow night Leslie Clack takes to the stage of the Playhouse to perform More Lives Than One — Oscar Wilde and the Black Douglas.

Wilde flouted the strict morality of 1890s Victorian England, and society eventually set out to destroy him.

This sparkling one-man show takes extracts from Wilde’s comedies as well as scenes from his trials, to present the highs and lows of his short and dazzling life.

Round the corner at the Millennium Forum, they’re preparing for the arrival of Dirty Den in Francis Durbridge’s Murder With Love. Leslie Grantham takes the lead role alongside Neil Stacy in this story of Larry Campbell and his sworn enemy David Ryder.

When Ryder obtains a key to Campbell’s flat with evil on his mind, plans don’t go as expected. Deceit, suspicion, blackmail and incrimination are woven together into a fast-paced thriller with a twist in its tale.

You’ll be perched on the edge of your seat throughout this drama, which opens on April 22.

Finally, something to get your toes tapping this spring... What about a cabaret-style dance and live-music show?

The Old Museum Arts Centre’s Studio Season is coming to a close, but before it does, Derry-based Assault Events will perform Alibi, a sexy, energetic dance show.

Set in a nightclub, Alibi centres around a modern Lothario, two friends on a night out, and a seductive fairy godmother.

grania.mcfadden@ntlworld.com

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