Dark comedy unearths the secrets and lies behind a family

Portadown writer John McCann’s new play ‘Famla’ premieres in The Mac, Belfast later this month from March 21 to 25.

‘Famla’ is funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation and supported by Lottery funding.

Starring Rhodri Lewis, Hayley McQuillan and Tara Lynne O’Neill the Tinderbox Theatre Company production tells the is a dark comedy that tells about three lost souls in search of salvation.

The playwright John, now lives in Dundee. His work has been staged at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and he last collaborated with Tinderbox on The Cleanroom as part of the True North trilogy in 2010.

John was previously on attachment with The National Theatre Studio, a member of The Royal Court Studio Writers’ Group and recently participated in the Breakthrough programme, a year-long development attachment with the National Theatre of Scotland.

John, sees parallels between the answers sought by his characters in ‘Famla’ and the wider debate about how we deal with the past In Northern Ireland.

“The lives of the characters in ‘Famla’ have been blighted by what happened many years previously,” he said. “The problem is, they each have very different notions concerning what actually took place.

“A key moment in the play shows characters deliberately placing themselves in an imagined future where they have a chance to practice and experience what it might be like to actively reclaim and redefine your past.

“If successful they will potentially unlock their future. A key question for me is: will this imagined future manage to contain their different versions or be held hostage by them. Also, when will you know it’s the right time to stop re-hashing and rehearsing an imagined future and start living instead.”

Famla director Patrick J O’Reilly, appointed as Tinderbox Artistic Director last year, says the play will resonate with audiences everywhere.

“Every family has buried secrets and lies that we hope will never come to surface but John’s play beautifully digs them up and reveals the truth for us all to witness. Famla is hilarious, haunting and heartbreaking in equal measure,” he said.

Famla is recommended for over 16’s. Showings are each day at 8pm (Saturday matinee 3.30pm). Tickets available by phoning (028) 9023 5053.

The production will then tour to Cushendall Golf Club (March 29), Craic Theatre, Coalisland (March 30), The Playhouse, Derry (March 31) and then The Market Place, Armagh (April 1).