Belfast Telegraph

Fire Below: Heated drama about our post-Troubles world at the Lyric

By Alison Fleming

A new play in Belfast's Lyric Theatre explores how Northern Ireland can move on from the past.

Award-winning playwright Owen McCafferty's latest production Fire Below (A War Of Words) is set in real time in Belfast 2017, tackling bonfires, agreements, the role of religion in politics and the role of minority languages.

Billed as funny, moving and truthful, it features Gerry and Rosemary, and Tom and Maggie, neighbouring couples who have lived through conflict from a distance. Now, nearly 20 years on from the Belfast Agreement, they sit on Gerry and Rosemary's decking having a glass of wine on a nice summer's evening, putting the world to rights while waiting for the 11th Night bonfire to be lit in the estate below.

But Owen says bonfires aren't a central theme, and that the play won't be a debate about their rights and wrongs.

"They think that in a sense that they have escaped the emotional and political baggage that comes from conflict here," said Owen of the characters.

"So, they think they can talk about everything freely, and they do up to a point where something happens and it just kicks something else off.

"What they actually think about each other is only ever one unguarded comment away. And who knows when and from where that comment will come." The 56-year-old is still the only playwright to have won all three top writing awards in one year - the John Whiting Award, the Evening Standard's Charles Wintour Award for New Playwriting, and the Meyer-Whitworth Award for Scenes From The Big Picture.

This is his third collaboration with Jimmy Fay, and follows their critically acclaimed production of Quietly.

The play stars Ruairi Conaghan, Cara Kelly, Ballykissangel's Frankie McCafferty and Ali White.

It will also be staged in Dublin.

Fire Below (A War Of Words) is at the Lyric until October 29.

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