East Belfast Boy, a play I saw

Last Friday I went to see a play called Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful. The title foretells disappointed, and disappointed I duly was when it turned out that Every Day I Wake Up Hopeful wasn’t on last Friday. It’s part of the Edgefest season Prime Cut are putting on in with Tinderbox in the MAC, and two of the plays are running alternate nights. Since I was there and it was Friday night, I went to see the other one — East Belfast Boy.

I had convinced my friend James to come with me. He thought going to see a play wasn’t a very Friday night thing to do, because he’s young and cool and does fun things at weekends that mean he sometimes doesn’t get up until lunchtime. So I was glad to prove him totally wrong when we took our seats to the sound of some rather banging techno. Famous Belfast DJ Phil Kieran did the sound design for the play, so it was a bit like the kinds of Friday nights I used to have when I ran a club in Dublin that Phil Kieran came down to play at.

Onto the stage came a young fella that can only be described as being Super Mad Out of It. He spat out just over an hour’s worth of aggressive, snotty, self-justifying, mocking, teasing, boastful, self-pitying poetry. I’ve spent other kinds of Friday nights in the company of young lads like him. Ryan McParland captured him perfectly.

It’s a story that ranges across hope, family, friendship, belonging, place but never settles anywhere for long. The lights were up for a lot of the play. We were less audience than fellow-travellers. I would have loved to have seen it played without the seats, to an audience that were able to dance and stand, to properly inhabit the club with Davy.

I thought on my way out that the people who should really see the play might not get to, because they don’t spend their Friday nights in the MAC. On Tuesday I was out teaching 360 video in Saints Youth Club in Twinbrook. Cuan, one of their leaders, was taking names for a trip to the MAC to see East Belfast Boy. I told them all how good it was and how much they’d like it — about a boy much more their age than mine. And then I realised that my good opinion was of pretty much zero value.

But for anyone who does value my opinion, I recommend it. It’s a very good play. Well done to Fintan Brady who wrote it and all the crew who put it together.

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