Under the Black Rock is a new thriller set in Belfast around the time of the Troubles. It stars Evanna Lynch, best known for her role as Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter. We spoke to writer Tim Edge
Tell us what Under the Black Rock is about?
Under the Black Rock is a thriller set in Belfast in 1979, at the height of the Troubles. The play is set around a family – the Ryan family – that has been deeply scarred by violent extremism. In particular, it traces the fortunes of Niamh Ryan played by Evanna Lynch. It follows Niamh’s journey from naïve new terrorist recruit to battle hardened operative. In essence the play explores the effects of extremism on families and young people. It also concerns secrecy and the difficulty in coming to terms with past actions.
What made you want to write about the Troubles?
I lived in Northern Ireland during the latter part of the Troubles and witnessed the effects of violent extremism at first hand. I have also had numerous discussions with Irish friends as well as with those who were caught-up in the Troubles on both sides of the sectarian and extremist/security force divide. The Troubles is a source of numerous human tragedies as well as a landscape rich in dramatic possibilities. Given this fact I am surprised that that more plays haven’t been set during this period. The Troubles are still bitingly relevant today, 25 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. It’s always been there, simmering beneath the surface. All it takes is a spark.
What can the audience expect?
Under the Black Rock is not a historical or political piece it’s a thriller. An audience should, therefore, expect twists, shocks and a characters who are rarely who they seem to be at first glance. It’s also a darkly comic play so an audience can expect to laugh! In particular, it’s a show which highlights the work of brilliant young Creatives such as our designer Ceci Calf, and in particular our inspirational director, Ben Kavanagh, who is at the heart of everything, driving the action along at a cracking pace. Finally, we want the audience to still be discussing the play the next morning, and the morning after that!
Evanna Lynch, who is better known for her role in Harry Potter as Luna Lovegood, is playing the lead. What sort of part is it, and what’s her performance like?
There are some fantastic parts for women in Under the Black Rock and Evanna Lynch has bagged the best of them! Evanna plays Niamh Ryan, a young woman who struggles to balance the demands of her disintegrating family and a prominent role as a leading terrorist operative. The part demands huge swings of emotion from glacial calm to sudden volcanic outbursts and Evanna masters it all brilliantly. She has been a joy to work with and her insights and diligent research have brought real depth to the role.
Tell us about the rest of the cast.
We have assembled a fantastic cast with a brilliant team spirit and I’m really proud of them all. Award winning actress, Flora Montgomery joins us fresh from the set of The Crown. Another award winner, Matthew Blaney, recently starred In Belfast. It’s such a privilege to work with actors who have worked with the greats, from Sir Peter Hall and Sir Kenneth Branagh to Ken Loach. Having an Irish cast also lends real credibility to the piece and has been an endless source of laughter, stories and craic!
What’s next for Bluebird Productions?
Bluebird productions was set up to showcase new writing and to highlight the work of up-and-coming young actors and creatives. My second play, ‘Human Capital’ – think ‘All about Eve’ in a corporate setting – is now complete. Who knows, that may be its next project!
Under the Black Rock runs at Arcola Theatre 2 – 25 March https://www.arcolatheatre.com/whats-on/under-the-black-rock/