Wednesday 5 March 2014

Nivelli's War by Charles Way - presented by Cahoots NI

Last night I attended the opening performance of Nivelli's War by Charles Way with my wife and my nine-year-old daughter at The MAC Theatre in Belfast. I am indebted to the play now, as it provided such a spectacular introduction to 'grown-up' theatre to my first-born.

Cahoots NI presented an intensely atmospheric play that had my daughter giggling one second and squeezing my hand in anticipations of danger the next. The cast is stellar: Dan Gordon, Sam Clemmett, Kerri Quinn, Abigail McGibbon, Bob Kelly, Michael Lavery and Faolan Morgan. The seven actors interact with each other like a well-oiled machine, each one providing their own special brand of magic in a show that relies heavily on suspension of disbelief. But if you believe in the magic, the payoff is more than generous.

Following the tribulations of young Ernst, a boy evacuated from his home in Frankfurt and then abandoned by his new carer, Tante Sophie, in mysterious circumstances, the play is set during the tail-end of the Second World War. German aristocracy, Russian and American soldiers and a snarky hobo contribute to what is at heart a tale about family and honour with a dash of the fantastical thrown in.

Every element of the production team was on point. If anybody missed a beat, I didn't pick up on it. The beautiful piano music, combined with a trigger-happy fog machine and moody lighting, created a world of smoke and shadows with occasional and powerful licks of colour, such as the wondrous image of a simple red balloon.

One of my performance highlights was the lesson in shrugging passed down from Mr H (Bob Kelly) to Ernst (Sam Clemmett). I was also steadfastly captivated by the understated yet mischievous performance of Dan Gordon as The Great Nivelli of the future who served as an active filter to the sad past.

Loved it. I urge you to go see it.

Nivelli's War will play at The Mac Theatre from 4-11 March. Book your tickets here.


seana graham said...

It looks very lively. I'm glad you're introducing your daughter to theatregoing at an early age.

Gerard Brennan said...

Thanks, Seana. Aye, my daughter was pretty happy about it too.


Anonymous said...

I took my 10 year old daughter to see Nivelli's War at the Mac last night. She cried, she laughed, she was intrigued, fretful and bemused. She grabbed my arm and squeezed for comfort. At the end, she exhaled deeply as she returned to the present. Afterwards, she asked me if it was really like that during the war? I replied that I was too young to remember the war but that I was sure it was. I'm delighted my little one had this experience. I would humbly advise all parents to follow my example and take their children to see this wonderful drama.

Gerard Brennan said...

Thanks for adding to this, Anonymous. Delighted to read that the play had such an effect on your daughter. I second your advice.