Defender of the Faith
Tron, Glasgow, Tue 10–Sat 28 Feb
The power sharing deal struck by the DUP and Sinn Fein in 2007 may have suggested to the world that the Troubles in Northern Ireland were finally over but the impact of decades of violence has permanently left its mark on the public consciousness. Irish playwright Stuart Carolan examines the impact of this historic conflict in his 2004 debut Defender of the Faith, which Andy Arnold is now bringing to the Tron.
Through its plot, in which a Republican family is shaken up by the search for an informer in 1986, Carolan claims he wanted to depart from stereotypical portrayals: ‘I didn’t want these people to be just goodies and baddies. “Troubles fiction” always follows an apparently simplistic narrative and I wanted to write something different.’ Carolan, a former radio producer, exudes passion when he talks about the play’s exploration of ‘the impact of violence on the soul’. This emotional perspective is juxtaposed with his desire for impartial representation of the perpetrators of violence. ‘In certain areas of Belfast,’ he claims, ‘one in two men would have been in prison at any one time during the Troubles. You either say there’s something wrong with them as human beings or they’re reacting to a political situation beyond their control.’
This outlook points to the universally relevant message behind the play. ‘Political violence around the world is always simplified. If you break it down, people are just human beings … I didn’t want the play to have a trite message so that everyone feels good, but the audience should get a sense of the desolation that violence causes.’