Anne Hailes reviews: Pentecost at the Lyric theatre

Pentecost

by Stewart Parker

Directed by Jimmy Fea

Lyric Theatre

Until Saturday 18th October 2014

Many people believe it’s wrong to keep dwelling on the past, I agree, although there’s every justification to remember what has gone before and look behind the obvious story to deeper meanings – as is the case in Pentecost. This was the last play written by Stewart Parker and it has stood the test of time only because it’s not a story about the Troubles rather a story about people living through the Troubles, the Ulster Workers Strike of 1974 is the backdrop to their stories.

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There’s the distant rumble of a bomb, some shooting but inside the house of the Lenny’s late aunt Lily there are more personal matters to be sorted out.

The room is dingy and damp, full of modern antiques and gas lights which give the set a very authentic look and feel. Into this room comes Marian (Judith Roddy) a young woman who is disturbed and needs a place to be on her own, she has sold her business and her flat and is ready for a new start but needs time to think. Her estranged husband arrives, Lenny (Paul Mallon) and there’s tension between them, why is she here? What does she want?

To buy the house she tells him.

And so she does.

The couple are Catholics but Auntie Lily (Carol Moore) was a staunch Prod and she comes back to haunt Marian. Eventually the ghost establishes a friendship with the girl and spills out her story. Going against all her Christian teachings she had a fling with an airman during the war and she became pregnant, a child she left on the steps of the Baptist church and forgot. Except she wasn’t able to forget. Neither has Marian forgotten the child she had and how his death wrecked her life and her marriage.

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Into this triangle comes Marian’s friend Ruth (Roisin Gallagher) who has been beaten and abused by her policeman husband, she needs refuge and comes to stay. Three women each with terrible pain and a young man in limbo. When Peter (Will Irvine) turns up, an old mate of Lennys and a Jack the lad who’s been living in Birmingham, the atmosphere lightens but even he has problems and as the play progresses each tells their innermost secrets.

The five actors are excellent, emotional in their storytelling and any audience will appreciates that. It’s an intense evening with enough humour to alleviate the tensions and give us time to breath.

The set doesn’t dominate and is an excellent canvas for the cast to paint their individual pictures. One thing struck me. Marian at one time kneels beside the ghost of Lily, holds her hands and lies against her breast. I found that grated me slightly because suddenly Lily became real and tangible. But that’s just me, don’t think anyone else was bothered!

Good play and excellent acting.

By Anne Hailes

Check all Anne Hailes Belfast Times reviews here.

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