20/09/2010

Stormont Play 'Questions Identity'

There was electoral personation and multiple identities aplenty at GBL Production's gala opening night of the comedy, Stormont on Friday night.

Not only was the playwright and comic Sean Crummey taking on the roles of both Ulster Unionist Executive Minister Michael McGimpsey and Sinn Fein's Junior Minister Gerry Kelly, but applauding the mimicry and political innuendo was the north Belfast Maze escapee-turned politician, Gerry Kelly himself - pictured here by Aidan Monaghan - congratulating the playwright and actor (right).

Added into this surreal 'world' at the weekend was the invited guests from the environmental protest group Communities Against the Lough Neagh Incinerator - yellow T-Shirts and all - and the event at Newtownabbey's Theatre at The Mill looked certain for novelty at the very least.

Sean Crummey insisted that he started writing the play over a year ago and had no idea that during rehearsals Minister Poots would announce plans to build a Chicken Waste Incinerator so that his protagonists - who invade the corridors at Stormont to inadvertently kidnap both political figures, were doubly represented.

The on-stage protesters go into action when Gerry Kelly and Michael McGimpsey are about to conduct a phone interview with Talkback and the plot thickens.
News Image
Then, ironically, given the history, it is the stage Gerry Kelly who disarms the militant group of environmentalists who have decided that the election is too good an opportunity to miss and literally seize the moment to exploit the media presence on the eve of Assembly Elections.

In the event, there are plenty of laughs, but little more than has been standard fare from BBC TV's Folks On The Hill funny man, Crummey.

Executive producer, Martin Lynch's post-show claim of "a triumph" may be slightly exaggerated, but certainly Mr Crummey's energy and innovation in playing both politicians and keeping the twin characters apart on stage - for obvious reason - is to be admired.

Also, protest 'leader' Marty Maguire - fresh from his hugely successful performance in the Grand Opera House as Matt Busby in Dancing Shoes - The George Best Story added style and polish to the story.

Paul Boyd who recently appeared in the Lyric Theatre production of the Miser and Kathy Kiera Clarke, the Irish Film and TV Awards nominated Best Actress for Paul Greengrass' Bloody Sunday - (also seen in the Newtownabbey-made shocker Cherrybomb) also gave their best.

However, it was the surreal nature of the life/art interface that was most effective, as Crummey posed with Kelly at the after-show drinks reception and the real protesters lined up for photographs too that was most memorable.

See: Stormont Play 'Questions Identity'

(BMcC/GK)

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