A Night in November Everyman Theatre, Cork

Waking up to the evils of sectarian bigotry is the theme of this one-man show, written by Marie Jones and directed by Ian McElhinney.
A Night in November    Everyman Theatre, Cork

Conor Grimes plays Ulster Protestant, Kenneth McCallister, a dole clerk, who has always quietly discriminated against Catholics. He gloats over the fact that he has been accepted for membership at the local golf club while his Catholic boss, Gerry, has been refused.

Playing myriad roles, Grimes takes the audience on a roller coaster ride which sees Kenneth undergo a process of self examination. The catalyst for his realisation that he has been a bigot is the World Cup qualifier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The loyalists taunt the republican supporters about the UDA Greysteel Massacre. When Ireland scores a goal, the supporters have to stay silent to avoid identifying themselves. Kenneth is appalled and no longer feels comfortable with his community.

In some ways, Jones’s writing has a broad brush stroke quality about it and is somewhat reliant on stereotypes. Protestants are neat and uptight while Catholics are messy and up for the craic. This is exemplified in the playwright’s portrayals of Kenneth and Gerry’s wives.

Kenneth admits to being jealous of Gerry’s easygoing wife who signs off a note to her husband with the words, ‘love you.’ Kenneth’s wife, Deborah, is a snob, more worried about the vol au vents she is serving her guests than the TV news report about the Downing Street declaration. This is an enjoyable play, part deadly serious and part high comedy when it goes stateside.

Until Saturday.

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