AU CONTRAIRE: EXPLORING BREXIT IN ENGLISH AND IRISH THEATRE

THE ARTICLE BELOW ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE CLYDE FITCH REPORT

The ongoing debate about Brexit has had many unintended consequences – but one of the most distressing has been the deterioration of the cooperative relationship that Ireland and the UK have painstakingly developed since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

Irish reactions to the 2016 Brexit referendum have generally alternated between shock and schadenfreude, but there has also been evidence of a renewed threat of republican terrorism. Meanwhile in Britain (and especially in England) the political impasse caused by the Irish border has produced bewilderment if not hostility – with one Tory MP suggesting that the threat of food shortages might focus Irish minds, while a BBC presenter wondered why Ireland couldn’t just re-join the UK altogether. For two countries with so much in common, it has been painful to discover how little we really understand each other. `

Yet there has also been evidence of a desire to redress that mutual incomprehension in at least one setting: the major theatres of both countries.

That impulse has been most apparent in London. One of the decade’s biggest hits so far has been Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman, a play that recently transferred from the Royal Court to Broadway. Set in a Northern Irish farmhouse in the early 1980s, this Troubles-era thriller has attracted some criticism from Irish commentators, who worried that its inclusion of banshees and whiskey-swigging children might reinforce negative stereotypes. But what has been overlooked in those discussions is how Butterworth both humanizes and re-politicizes the Troubles – showing his belief that it’s a part of the history and life of the UK that needs to be understood much better.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE https://www.clydefitchreport.com/2019/03/brexit-theater-english-irish/