Northern Ireland

David Ervine play to open at Lyric before tour of Northern Ireland

Greenshoot Productions launch of 'The Man Who Swallowed A Dictionary', a new play by Bobby Niblock, about the life of ex UVF and PUP politician, David Ervine. It stars Paul Garrett. Picture by Hugh Russell
Greenshoot Productions launch of 'The Man Who Swallowed A Dictionary', a new play by Bobby Niblock, about the life of ex UVF and PUP politician, David Ervine. It stars Paul Garrett. Picture by Hugh Russell Greenshoot Productions launch of 'The Man Who Swallowed A Dictionary', a new play by Bobby Niblock, about the life of ex UVF and PUP politician, David Ervine. It stars Paul Garrett. Picture by Hugh Russell

A new play chronicling the life of PUP politician David Ervine will open with a 12 day run at the Lyric Theatre before going on tour around Northern Ireland.

The one-man show, starring Paul Garrett and written by Bobby Niblock, is titled The Man Who Swallowed a Dictionary, a play on how some people described the former UVF man.

Directed by Matthew McElhinney and produced by Martin Lynch, the play follows the life of Mr Ervine from his early days in east Belfast, his imprisonment for possession of bomb-making equipment in the 1970s through his later political career.

Mr Ervine died in 2007 aged 53 while still serving as a Northern Ireland Assembly member for east Belfast.

The David Ervine play runs in the Lyric for 12 days in May before going on tour.
The David Ervine play runs in the Lyric for 12 days in May before going on tour. The David Ervine play runs in the Lyric for 12 days in May before going on tour.

At the launch announcing the opening of the play at the Dark Horse in Belfast on Thursday, his widow Jeanette unveiled a portrait of her last husband painted by their son Mark.

Writer Bobby Niblock served time with Mr Ervine following the former's conviction for murder in the 1970s.

Greenshoot Productions and the Lyric said the show "chronicles the remarkable life of Ervine, from the backstreets of east Belfast to Long Kesh prisoner to political negotiations at the White House and Downing Street". 

The producers added: "From his personal family tragedies to becoming the man who is widely regarded as the man who did most to deliver the Protestant working class to support the Good Friday Agreement.

The late David Ervine
The late David Ervine The late David Ervine

"As well as being an important figure in the history of Ulster loyalism, Ervine was also known for his grasp of the English language and capacity for using 'big words' in television interviews, hence the title of the play. 

"It's a remarkable story, providing a great insight into not just the man but the Protestant community in the most turbulent period of the Troubles."