Belfast Telegraph

Ballybeen family meltdown forms new drama backdrop

by Fiona Rutherford

A controversial new play based on the search for truth by victims of the Troubles is to open in Belfast in the next few weeks.

Everything Between Us by David Ireland, who was brought up in Ballybeen and now lives in east Belfast, was premiered in Washington in March this year in front of packed houses and received rave reviews.

The play — one of three being produced in the True North theatre season by theatre company Tinderbox — is set at Stormont at the first sitting of a newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Northern Ireland.

A taut and fast-paced two-woman showdown, Everything Between Us focuses on the relationship between two sisters, Sandra and Teeni, from Ballybeen. Sandra, played by Tara Lynne O’Neill, is preparing to take her seat on the Commission when her long lost sister Teeni, played by Claire Lamont, explodes into the chamber and assaults the South African chairwoman.

To find out if this is a terrorist plot, or just her sister’s way of announcing her return to Belfast, Sandra bundles Teeni into a disused room hidden along the corridors of power. With the world’s media waiting to invade, Sandra and Teeni must learn very quickly how to talk to each other.

Playwright David Ireland says: “I wanted to write about a fictional Truth and Reconciliation Commission precisely because the topic is complex, controversial and confusing.

“I think when we look at the damage we’ve done to each other over the past few decades it’s truly terrifying. I think the idea of cleaning up the mess of it is even more terrifying. And I think we don’t know where to begin. I think there’s also an underlying fear that an official attempt at ‘reconciliation’ will not only bring up old problems but create new ones.”

Everything Between Us is the fourth play by Ireland who trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and has worked for the Royal Exchange in Manchester, and the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.

He is not sure how the play will be received: “A man originally from Ballybeen was in the audience in Washington and he loved it! The truth is I don’t know how people here will react to the play. It presents two characters, both from the same family, both damaged in different ways by the society they grew up in.”

The play, which contains strong language, is recommended to over 18s when it opens at the Crescent Arts Centre as part of the True North season from September 29 - October 16. For further information and tickets visit |www.crescentarts.org

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