Knife crime is a universal story which has become the scourge of many cities including London, where the spiralling level of stabbings fuelled the playwright Shelagh Stephenson to pen The Long Road in 2008.
This critically acclaimed drama has received its Northern Ireland premiere at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast where it runs until 21 October in the Naughton Studio.
The play has a stunning local cast and is directed by the Lyric’s own Artistic Director, Richard Croxford, “This enthralling piece is drama at its most potent,” said Richard. “Audiences will be gripped from the outset as this deceptively simple tale is told by our stunning local cast. The raw emotion, humour and honesty of this story will resonate with people on many different levels to give a remarkable night at the theatre.”
The play tells the story of two brothers, Joe and Dan, who go out for the night but one never comes home. Eighteen-year-old Dan dies from a single stab wound inflicted by a young woman, Emma Price (Bernadette Brown) who is ‘off her head’ on drugs.
The whole family struggles to deal with their loss which reaches a heart-rending climax when their mother Mary (Sheelagh O’Kane) seeks to meet her son’s killer in prison. The cast also includes Jo Donnelly, Brendan Fleming and Chris McCurry.
Stephenson spent many hours talking to victims and perpetrators of violent crime, visiting prisons and collaborating with the Forgiveness Project, a charity working in the fields of reconciliation and restorative justice which is a particularly pertinent issue in post-conflict Northern Ireland.
The result of her research is a powerful, poignant drama which never sentimentalises the tough subject matter.
Gilly Campbell from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which is the play’s principal funder, said: “ The Long Road is a hard-hitting yet powerful play that deals with a family’s emotional journey to forgiveness after their son is stabbed. A portrait of grief, the play is unfortunately all too topical in today’s modern society and will undoubtedly resonate with audiences here.”
The Long Road is on in the Naughton Studio and runs until Sunday 21 October. To book contact the Lyric box office on 028 9038 1081 or online at www.lyrictheatre.co.uk