Royal Court Theatre, London – Via YouTube
This 2019 revival of David Ireland’s play is currently available to watch online.
Last seen on stage at the Royal Court Theatre in 2019 for a brief run, this chilling black comedy about one man’s struggle with the past and uncertainty about the future is an extremely powerful watch from start to finish.
Directed with great simplicity by Vicky Featherstone in a way that highlights how striking David Ireland’s writing is in terms of exploring themes such as identity and cultural heritage with great sharpness but also with flashes of humour that breaks the tension up nicely.
Cyprus Avenue begins with Eric Miller (Stephen Rea) paying a visit to psychiatrist Bridget (Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo) which in their initial conversation doesn’t get their relationship off to the best of starts. While not immediately clear why he is there, the play combines a series of flashbacks as it emerges that he is a Belfast Loyalist who is convinced that his new baby granddaughter is actually Gerry Adams.
Throughout it all, Ireland’s play is brutal and honest to the point it becomes almost difficult to watch unfold – particularly during some of the more shocking moments towards the end. Eric’s self-destructive behaviour is chilling to witness – portrayed with great power and precision by Rea whose performance is completely engaging from start to finish.
It is a performance that magnificently gets the balance between Eric’s seemingly rationale and belief that his granddaughter is Gerry Adams and his passion for his cultural heritage. He is more than amply supported by Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo as Bridget who challenges him on his views, Amy Malloy as daughter Julie, Andrea Irvine as wife Bernie and Chris Corrigan as Slim.
The strongest moments in the play come when Eric is challenged on his views by his family and psychiatrist – there is searing rawness about these moments that are mesmerising to watch, despite the times when it all becomes a little too shouty and over-reliant on certain bad language that can take away from what Eric and the characters are trying to express.
But despite this, there is no denying that this a powerful drama about struggling with identity and prejudice that makes for chilling viewing from start to finish.
By Emma Clarendon
Cyprus Avenue is available to watch for free for the next month.