I’m literally just in from The Lyric Theatre where I watched The Sword and The Sand; a really gritty, aggressive and powerfully dark play by acclaimed writer Pearse Elliot, and I cannot seem to spit the words out of me fast enough to express what I thought of it - my mind is whizzing and full of the kind of energy that only fear and adrenaline bring.
This was a black and scary play which was quite shocking in parts - but in a way that makes you realise it’s the kind of art which challenges you; theatre which makes you question who you are and wonder what on earth is going on in rough and tough corners of your city - never mind corners of the earth - well beyond your safe little bubble.
The Rawlife Theatre production was directed by Martin McSharry, whose first play for me was Clockwork Orange back in 2005 in the Potthouse, (with Marty McCann among others). The McSharry-Elliot combo has worked brilliantly here - the casting and the performances together make for pretty emotive viewing, even if the main character, Duff, a psychopath played brilliantly by Marty Maguire, is so excellently lacking in emotion and empathy… (And Pearse told me afterwards that Duff is based on a real-life psycho who is alive and well in an Irish prison - eek!). Maguire’s character leads his impressionable protégées Cricky (Gerard Jordan-Quinn) and Lala (Bernadette Brown) down a path of delusional dreams and idealistic dead ends while also taking advantage of refugee Azir (Mark Asante) whose character deserves every ounce of the audience’s sympathy. And I’m not sure how he does it, but the handsome 6’5” actor has an excellent way of making stage presence feel meek and mouse-like for his role despite his grand stature.
The play is almost Shakespearean in its gore but with a dash of modern Tarantino and a good mash-up of all the seven deadly sins - especially avarice, lust, anger and envy in abundance in Maguire’s Duff.
This is a go-see play. But not if you don’t like the C word. Or racism. Or misogynistic sexism. But that sh*t unfortunately happens in life and Elliot’s play shows it like it is.
Booking now at The Lyric here: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk/event/the-sword-and-the-sand/