Jade City may be set in Belfast, but don’t go expecting a play about the Troubles or any other northern Irish cliche. Playwright Alice Malseed talks about her hometown and the characters whose experience of it she captures in Jade City, which transfers to VAULT Festival 6 to 10 February 2019. Time to get booking!
Every person from Belfast will have heard an English person say ‘I’ve never been to Belfast but I really want to go’. Belfast is amazing, yeah, but it’s also a bit weird. Loads of strange stuff has happened here. We thought we had it sorted when Bill Clinton came over to turn on the Christmas lights in 1995, but 24 years on from that, things are still a bit confused.
Sas and Monty, the characters in Jade City (played by Brendan Quinn and Barry Calvert), would have been about three years old when Clinton was here. Jade City, their favourite Chinese restaurant, probably wasn’t open yet. Their area (Woodstock Road and Cregagh Road) would have had a slightly different vibe.
Bill’s visit, and the Good Friday Agreement a few years later, promised hope and peace. Despite the kaleidoscopic versions of hope and peace we have now in Belfast, Sas and Monty have none themselves. Their own actions in Belfast have created their own personal troubles, and the way they see they city mirrors and supports this.
Jade City is a story about two lads who live in Belfast. It’s a play about Belfast. It’s not a play about the Troubles, or paramilitarism, or mob rule and gang violence, or about sectarianism, or the shipbuilding industry, or about a farm or anything like that. Jade City is about two lads, one of whom has done something terrible and the other who didn’t stop him.
It could be set anywhere, but it’s bigger grimy themes are so uniquely Belfast. It’s about a lack of hope, a lack of opportunity, and about societal structures which keep people in their place and disallow opportunity and social mobility. Those feelings hide in Belfast’s alleyways and dark, threatening corners.
It’s so important for me to showcase this (Northern) Irish story to audiences in London. It’s timelier than ever given that the right-wing fundamentalist party (the D.U.P.), who we have had to put up with for decades, is now in bed with the Conservative government.
The complex once-bog of land that make the six counties of Northern Ireland needs to be understood by the UK. Jade City is one of the stories about real-life men that you won’t be able to read on Buzzfeed. Come and see it at Vault Festival.
As part of the 2019 Vault Festival, Jade City runs from 6 to 10 February at The Vaults, Leake Street, London SE1 7NN. Performances (one hour) run nightly at 9pm, with a Sunday matinee at 4.30pm. Tickets are priced £12. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!