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True Sons

Debacle Theatre Company
Studio 1 C Central
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 10th -16th 2003

Written and directed by Triche Kehoe.

CAST:advertisng for the play in Edinburgh 2003

Cassandra  Heather Giles
Lizzie Nicola Bauer
Frank Angus McKenzie-Davie
Cait Triche Kehoe
Chrissie Nalina Tobierre
Anna Laura Gavin
Ged Alex Perkins

THIS PLAY brings the classical Greek tragedy, Elektra, right up to date. The action of the original plays moves forward to modern- day London, although it could easily be Omagh, Enniskillen or the Shankill.

As the play opens a young woman seems to be in despair. A older man, somewhat infirm, comes to the door. It turns out he's Uncle Frank and he's come to surprise Lizzie's mum, Cait. He waits. Cait arrives and she's not pleased to see Frank there. It seems that there's bad blood over a past event when Frank blew himself up.

Frank and Cait's husband were 'soldiers' in some cause. There are strong hints that the Cause is an Irish one. Cait's estranged son, Ged, is a fanatical man of 'strong convictions' ready to kill and die for the Cause. He had become estranged from her, stolen away by Frank and the Cause.

Cait had betrayed them all after her daughter, Jenny had been sacrificed to the Cause when she had been out on a birthday trip into town to buy a party dress. She had been killed in an explosion. Cait's husband had died in prison. Cait had moved away and tried to bury the past with lies about her husband and child dying in a car crash. Frank's reappearance brought this hidden past back to life.

Frank reports back to Ged that he has found Cait, but entertains thoughts of conciliation as 'we're in a different world now'. Ged wants to get it over with - to kill his mother for her treason. Ged corrects Frank, who feels things can't go on forever: "As long as there are enough of us it will".

Lizzie is not a sympathetic character. Chrissie, her sister regards her as a stroppy attention-seeking selfish cow. She is seriously disturbed. Her dreams are haunted by appearances from Cassandra, who hovers in the background of every scene in the play. Lizzie knows that something is wrong: dark secrets in the family that are kept from her. Despite this, she rebuffs attempts from her mum to settle things and she takes a perverse delight in provoking Chrissie and in her mum's discomfort at 'Uncle Frank's' mysterious reappearance. In her bitter rage, she wants to strike out at her mother and "get them in the end."

True Sons is a powerful and moving piece of theatre. Cait's retelling of Jenny's last day on earth reflects the experience of many Ulster mothers over the past three decades. It's powerful and emotional. I defy anyone who has a conscience not to shed at least one tear at this point.

This theatre company deserves to prosper. Full marks to Nicola Bauer who portrayal of the tortured, insolent, manipulative, smirking Lizzie really made you want to give her a good slapping. If Chrissie had hit her, I think the audience would have cheered! 

Alex Perkins as Ged, Cait's son - a vengeful leather-jacketed fanatic - was truly terrifying. This was not a man to cross. An air of menace and violence was virtually hanging out of him, particularly when he went to do his final job. 

The issues of war, terrorism, fanaticism and their consequences for us all are too often glossed over. Not in this play. This production well deserves a wider audience. Don't miss it if it goes on tour in your town.

David Kerr

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