Belfast Telegraph

Belfast mural takes you on Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster's 'madcap Euro road trip'

By Cate McCurry

It's a mural with a difference in the heart of Belfast.

But this unusual painting depicting Michelle O'Neill and Arlene Foster as friends, laughing side-by-side is to promote a new play based on the two politicians.

Inspired by the Hollywood movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles starring Steve Martin and John Candy, it follows the pair as they embark on a trip across Europe.

Written by Rosemary Jenkinson, the play shows how two of Northern Ireland's most powerful women can work together to save Stormont.

The Michelle & Arlene Holiday Special: Planes, Trains & Tractors will open next week at the Accidental Theatre in Shaftesbury Square, where the mural is painted.

"It gets a lot of attention," Rosemary admitted.

The mural was created by the play's director Richard Lavery and painted by Jonny McKerr.

The latest political play comes just months after the release of Rapid Response: Michelle and Arlene, which explored Northern Ireland's fast-moving political landscape.

Rosemary explained: "We did them on a Thelma and Louise road trip and now this is their European road trip.

"I've still been adding to it over the last couple of days including things like Arlene Foster congratulating Prince William instead of Prince Harry on his engagement. It's those small touches that will help make it up-to-date. The story is about Michelle and Arlene deciding to meet in Stormont to make a final agreement on a deal.

"They are only doing this for publicity as they know they can't get one but they tell the public they will be locked in Stormont for as many days as it will take.

"But they sneak out and go to the airport and pick any destination they want to go to just to get out of Northern Ireland for some fun as they have had enough of politics and they can't come to an agreement.

"When they get to a Bulgarian ski resort they discover that their belongings have been stolen but they can't tell anyone because they are meant to be in Stormont so they have to start hitch-hiking and busking for money and then they hitch a lift to Brussels.

"They find a horse box, which is like the nativity scene, and get the boat to Cork and come up over the border which includes some Brexit references.

"They then steal a tractor and come over the border. It's a very broad satirical look at a mad adventure of what happens when they are abroad.

"Everything is referencing what is happening in politics and is part of an overview of what is happening in Europe.

"And when they get back to Stormont they make a deal - but people will have to come to see to find out what it is."

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