True Confessions

Good Vibrations

Sometime in the middle of the 1990s, I spent a week of my holidays visiting the major cities on the island of Ireland. Specifically, I was going to these places to check out their record stores and bookshops. I was based in Limerick, so I made a few day trips by bus to Cork, Galway and Waterford. I also went to Dublin and stayed there with a friend in order to make my first visit to Belfast. This would have been a few years before the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and I remember a lot of my friends being a bit concerned about me going to Northern Ireland. I wasn’t too worried and was looking forward to visiting the record shops and bookstores I had somehow found out about

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Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2009: Theatre

The entrance to Long Kesh prison

The entrance to Long Kesh prison

We only made it to one play at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival and what a play it was. Chronicles of Long Kesh at the Assembly Hall told the story of the prison situated outside Belfast that was variously known as Long Kesh, the Maze and the H Blocks. The prison opened as HM Prison Maze in 1971 and housed thousands of paramilitary prisoners before its eventual closure in 2000. This two-hour play could have been heavy going for its midday audience, but it managed to blend a hearty dose of humour and song with the many tragic events that took place within the prison. The first half of the play takes us through the 70s from the burning of the camp in 1974 up to the dirty protests and the first hunger strikes at the end of that decade. The set is bare except for six large wooden boxes that the actors constantly move around to indicate a change of scenery. It is narrated by Freddie, played brilliantly by Billy Clarke, a young Protestant man who decides to become a prison officer more out of financial necessity than personal choice. At the beginning, Freddie is naive and out of his depth, but he settles into his role as an officer despite the pressures that it brings. Freddie introduces us to the rest of the characters and keeps the audience up-to-date with events inside and outside the prison as the play progresses. The rest of the cast is made up of one female and five male actors who each play a number of different roles. At the start it seems that there are too many characters and sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart. However, we are soon able to differentiate them due to the actors use of facial expressions, accents and body posture and movement

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