Belfast, you’re a lucky one.
With an arts sector that seems to do nothing but grow and get better in the midst of cuts and uncertainty, The Lyric acts as a hub for this forward-moving, creative resilience. I got to enjoy not one, but two shows there this week.
First up, Yer Granny. Based on La Nona by Roberto Cossa and directed by Graham McLaren, Yer Granny tells the story of a tri-generational family struggling to make ends meet in the 70s, due mostly to the unsatiable appetite of an 100 year-old matriarch. In the title role, Gregory Fisher is daring, endearing and never misses a beat – or a bite (seriously: the amount he eats during the play is impressive and hints at the skill so loved by an audience who applauded Fisher as soon as he came on stage).
Presented by the National Theatre of Scotland, the whole cast is hilarious with impeccable timing, the set is totally impressive and goodness…those Scottish accents are to die for. Book your tickets here.
And then, The Last Five Years. A musical-afficionada, I am adding this one to my list of favourites.
Beautifully written songs played by a very talented band tell the story of Jamie and Cathy, a young American couple who fall in love and then fall apart. The two tell their own sides of the story, Jamie’s song beginning at the start of the relationship and chronicling its unravelling and Cathy starting her story at the end of their relationship. The only time the actors are present in the same moment is during their wedding – they act, in essence, as props to each other the rest of the time. The intimacy experienced throughout the show, however, is beautiful and fragile and so incredibly tangible.
Fra Fee (Dungannon-bred, recently in Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables) and Amy Lennox (from Aberdeen, a West End regular who is sure to go far) could get away with impeccable vocal performances and energetic stage presences, but both their interaction with the audience and the vulnerability they enter into the songs with are stunning.
The gorgeous set is cleverly used to weave the stories together and the production is one Blunt Fringe should be very, very proud of. On at The Lyric until 4th July. Book here.
Honourable mention to Birdcage Belfast, just around the corner from The Lyric, for an absolutely delicious meal tonight – stop by for food before or cocktails after a show! I hope you get to check out Yer Granny and The Last Five Years: if you’re all booked up, make sure you visit The Lyric sometime over the summer. There is an incredible programme for you to savour.