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Review: Glimmer of hope for the future in The History of the Peace (Accordin' to my Ma)

Conor Grimes, Tara Lynne O’Neill and Alan McKee tackle the flags issue
Jane Hardy

NORTHERN Ireland hasn’t always been a funny story but the Troubles gang of playwrights, from Marie Jones to the late, great Christina Reid and - of course - Martin Lynch, have always deployed comedy in their account of the conflict.

It is, after all, a way of making sense of the nonsense. Tonight at the Grand Opera House, Lynch followed up his big long-running hit, The History of the Troubles (Accordin' to My Da) with the peace process story.

Titled The History of the Peace (Accordin' to my Ma), it features strong women, wannabe strong (and one or two cowed) men and is a brilliantly funny and astute account of the last 20 years.

It’s a human story, of course, and talking to playwright Martin Lynch, he said he wanted to give a voice to the men and women of east Belfast. Well, he’s definitely succeeded.

Stacey (the always brilliant Tara Lynne O’Neill) and Karen (Maria Connolly, very assured) are best girlfriends from their teens. Their growing up reflects the twists and turns of Northern Ireland’s sometimes tortured history. 

They gain men, kids (in Stacey’s case, three kids by three men) and an emotional narrative of possible underachievement accompanied by a desire for something better. As the attempts at peace grind on, we got the story of political underachievement too. 

Conor Grimes and Alan McKee, co-authors with Lynch, give their usual telling account of the characters in this parish. They are our Whitehouse and Enfield. We got the Iris Robinson debacle, genuinely lol, with people speculating whether she and Kirk got it together at the Laganside cafe.

We got the flegs debacle, with the formidable Denise (Ms O’Neill, plus patch and attitude) defending something she didn’t previously know existed. 

But in the end, we got people. There is a sort of happy ending, with Karen, our heroine who has found funds for a cross-community centre, including Irish lessons which leads one loyalist boyo to repeat his mantra about “the slippery slope”. Yet ultimately, there is some hope after our Protestants discover the beauty of Donegal and accept Dublin euros.

The soundtrack included some fab Van Morrison (who else?) and Dan Gordon directed with aplomb. 

This is one show that instructs and improves the immune system. 

The show continues at the Grand Opera House until April 30 (www.goh.co.uk)

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