Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Belfast Blues

Belfast Blues is the title of a one-woman play written and performed by the actress Geraldine Hughes, who was born in Belfast in 1970 and grew up in Divis Flats before moving to America nearly 20 years ago.  It is being performed this week in the Brian Friel Theatre in University Square.

The play is a 'tapestry of stories' about the life of Geraldine and her family as she grows up and comes of age in the violent Belfast of the 1980s.  It is told unashamedly from her own perspective and much of it is set in the streets and tower blocks of the Lower Falls.  The only furniture on the stage is a table, a chair and bench and the background is a series of stark depictions of the city at that time.

At the age of 14 she travelled to America to act in a television film entitled Children in the Crossfire.  Later she returned to America where she obtained a private scholarship to the University of California in Los Angeles, where she earned a degree from the School of Theatre, Film and TV.  After moving to New York she made her broadway debut in Brian Friel's Translations and tonight she was performing in the Brian Friel Theatre.

Geraldine has certainly captured the black humour of Belfast in her script and her performance demonstrated her very considerable talents as an actress.  She moves quickly and effortlessly from one character to another as she portrays the experiences of her parents and neighbours as well as her own and it is indeed a fine performance.
The script is very well written but I do have one criticism and that is the over-use of swearing and the continuous use of the name of Jesus Christ in an irreverent way.  Yes many people in inner-city Belfast do swear but I heard more swearing on the stage tonight than I would ever hear during an evening in any inner-city area in the course of my work and it detracted from the play.

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