Theatre in Wales

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Timely Cross-generational Northern Ireland Drama

The Ceasefire Babies

NT Connections , Aberystwyth Arts Centre , March-11-18
The Ceasefire Babies by NT Connections “Connections” is the title for the National Theatre's annual festival of new plays for youth theatres and schools. Two hundred and sixty companies participate in venues from the Western Isles to the Six Counties to East Anglia. Ten plays are selected, their criteria being a large cast for young people. “The Ceasefire Babies” by Fiona Doyle was the play chosen for Aberystwyth Arts Centre's Youth Theatre. Its subject has a particular resonance of importance and it is expressed with much theatrical craft.

A regular on public affairs television is a call that someone or something arise to bring the country together. It is a chimera. It is the nature of politics that views diverge; for decades to come city will differ from shire, old will diverge from young. The divisions are most concrete in the part of the United Kingdom separated from the bulk of the larger land mass. The fact that it has no government is little noticed but symptomatic of the political impasse and the fear that the era of past time may return.

Aberystwyth's studio space is a display of urban mess. Wooden palettes, tyres, chemical containers are strewn around. A group of youngsters hang out, their clothes loons and sawn-off denims. One of the most irritating songs ever “Chirpy, chirpy, cheep, cheep” is the repeated motif and sets the time of 1971. As it emerges its line “Where's your poppa gone?” becomes important.

Fiona Doyle's play introduces another group from the age of smartphone, football t-shirts and fissile teenage loyalties. The action of the two groups cross-cuts between the generations. The central theme between brother and sister Mikey and Jamie is whether to shake off the past with its grip of blood and tribalism. The palettes are a barrier line that evoke Derry and the Falls. Blood, it emerges, has been spilled. Fiona Doyle's stagecraft reveals it in pure visual terms.

If the theme is sombre the playing and the characterisation are not. The studio surges with energy and confident playing. Some of the actors are recognisable from prior productions. Aberystwyth has a notable pedigree in its youth theatre. There is a tale of a death recounted with a remarkable confidence by a young actor. The credits do not match name with character. The full cast comprises Georgia-Sian Clarke, Maeve Courtier-Lilley, Matila Kirk, Velina Janes, Lucille Richards, Heledd Davies, Nancy Kirk, Ilona Hoffman, Tanya Morgan, Owain Gruffydd, Josh Roberts, Anirudh Krishna, Jack Gethin, Che Underwood, Jack Tarrant and Matteo Langdon.

The National Theatre is having a good run. It gets critiqued for its lack of touring. In fact its touring in recent years has outdone the National Theatre of Wales even in Wales. NT Connections is another jewel, indicator of its commitment to young people.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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