Under the Black Rock @ Arcola Theatre Review

Approaching 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the significant event signalled the beginnings of an era post The Troubles, a decades long conflict instigated by conflicting ideologies in as to Northern Ireland’s path on a political, social and religious level. Set in the height of The Troubles, Tim Edge’s Under the Black Rock traces a family’s gradual pull into the complex conflict and the repercussions of doing so.

A mighty, rugged black rock suspended over the Arcola Theatre Studio 1 space not only makes a reality of the coastal climes of Northern Ireland, but also the heaviness of the conflicts that now dictate many realities. Under the Black Rock a magnifying glass heightening the factions that lie within a family further. Edge pens a meticulous piece concerned with the uncertainties of the external world and moves made by fellow citizens, as well as the uncertainties plaguing our main family – and what they all individually believe in.

We clasp into the matter of fact-ness of the older generations – Cashel (John Nayagam), Brendan Swords (George Wallace) and Sandra/Bridget (Flora Montgomery) with their own visions as to Northern Ireland’s direction, and the naivety and youthfulness of the younger generations – Niamh (Evanna Lynch) and Alan/Fin (Jordan Walker) who now find themselves immersed into a violent world. Mary O’Brien (Elizabeth Counsell) and Fr Francis Winter (Matthew Blaney) pillars of the community who offer sanctuary and a comical air, despite the heaviness that surrounds all. We gauge how a cause can very slowly take over every fibre of someone’s being, and have them as a result commit heinous acts with the idea that they’re doing the right thing. References to lives taken shocking to hear, due to how desensitised the world played out is.

Interrogations, imprisonments, confrontations and violent acts tottering on a fine line between fighting for the nation and individual agendas, Ben Kavanagh directing here a confrontational evening addressing what is – we feeling part of the action before our very eyes, privy to the interactions taking place behind closed doors. An engaging watch.

Written by Lucy Basaba.

Under the Black Rock is currently showing until Saturday 25th March 2023 at the Arcola Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop