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Bombay Street play brings back memories for Roma

RELIVING HISTORY: Director Tony Devlin with Mary Jordan, left, and Roma Tomelty RELIVING HISTORY: Director Tony Devlin with Mary Jordan, left, and Roma Tomelty
By Ciara Quinn

BRASSNECK Theatre Company’s latest production tells the story of the burning of Bombay Street.

Something in the Air will take to the stage at the Roddy’s for a limited run during the annual Féile an Phobail.

Written by playwright Laurence McKeown and centred on events surrounding the pogroms, which led to the outbreak of the Troubles 50 years ago this August, the play details how sectarian violence erupted across the city, how families were forced to flee their homes and ended up taking refuge across the border.

Brassneck Artistic Director Tony Devlin told the Andersonstown News how the play will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the events, which were the catalyst for the Troubles.

“This play is a daring piece of writing that will force audiences to not only reflect on the 50 years since the Troubles began but through it we want to create a conversation for debate and discussion about how we collectively move forward for the benefit of future generations.

“The play explores one woman’s journey from Bombay Street after that night when her family were forced from their home and forced to go to a place called Gormanston down south where these families stayed for a few months while Bombay Street was rebuilt or they were rehoused,” he said.

“50 years later, this woman, who was 19 at the time, is expecting a researcher from Dublin to come and talk to her about the events of that night. This character Rosie Murray is played by acclaimed actor Roma Tomelty who I have known for years and am delighted to be working with in this project.”

Tony spoke of how the play was to be first performed at The MAC theatre back in May but had to be halted due to the tragic death of fellow lead actress Mary Jordan’s mother in a car accident in Dublin.

“We cancelled the show and now are in a position to bring it back. Working on this, directing this has been an education for me having been born in the late 1970’s, I had never heard of Gormanston. I didn’t know we had refugees in our own country during this time in our history.

“Myself and Laurence also wanted to focus on the North/South divide which is an underlying theme in this play. We wanted to address how the North and South has been pulled apart since partition.”

Roma Tomelty who portrays the character of Rosie Murray said she knew “exactly who she, Rosie, was” from the first few lines of the script.

“I have known Tony a long time, he asked me to play the part and we have a long history. When I got the script, the first line is that ‘I went to St Vincent’s School’ – which I did so from then on in I thought I know exactly who you are. The play is marking this event.

“I was on the road the night the burning of Bombay Street happened. We were trying to get home to Andersonstown, my aunt was burnt out of Dover Street.

“There is a line in the play about ‘ordinary people living in extraordinary times’. I remember driving through the chaos that night, you just got on with it,” she said.

Actor Mary Jordan’s character is now a researcher after “turning her back” on her former banking career during the Celtic Tiger.

“My character becomes very interested in Rosie’s story and to learn that there were refugees from Belfast. She comes to visit Rosie to hear more and I can’t say anymore than that,” she added cryptically.

“Audiences will find out more as the play progresses.”

Something in the Air will run at the Roddy McCorley Social Club from Wednesday August 7 until Sunday August 11. Tickets are priced at £10 and are available from the bar.

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