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Fire Below: A War of Words

Thursday 21st September 2017 at 10am 0 Comments Drama

Director Jimmy Fay, Actor Ali White and Playwright Owen McCafferty Image: Director Jimmy Fay, Actor Ali White and Playwright Owen McCafferty

What happens to reconciliation when there is no one specific act of violence to reconcile?

Gerry & Rosemary and Tom & Maggie are neighbouring couples who have lived through conflict from a distance. Now, nearly 20 years on from the Belfast Peace Agreement, they sit on Gerry and Rosemary’s deck having a glass of wine on a nice summer’s evening, putting the world to rights while waiting for the 11th night bonfire to be lit in the estate below.  Yet there is something missing – the truth.  What they actually think about each other is only ever one unguarded comment away. And who knows when and from where that comment will come.

Belfast’s Owen McCafferty's writing features the language and complexities, both comic and tragic, of Belfast life.  FIRE BELOW (A War of Words) is set in real time in contemporary Belfast, giving audiences a sense of immediacy.  It gives a voyeuristic insight into living in Belfast in 2017, and covers all of the issues currently in our news bulletins, from bonfires, agreements, the role of religion in politics, to the role of minority languages.  It is funny, moving and truthful, and addresses the larger questions on how we can move on from our past.

Owen McCafferty is still the only playwright ever to have won all three top writing awards in one year: the John Whiting Award, the Evening Standard's Charles Wintour Award for New Playwriting and the Meyer-Whitworth Award for Scenes from the Big Picture, originally produced in 2003 at the National Theatre.  This is Owen’s third collaboration with Jimmy Fay, and follows their critically successful production of ‘Quietly’ which toured extensively before transferring to Broadway.

Executive Producer of the Lyric and Director of the play, Jimmy Fay, commented:

“I am delighted that the Lyric and the Abbey are co-producing Owen McCafferty’s new play ‘Fire Below, A War of Words’. It is a thematic companion piece to his extraordinary play ‘Quietly’ and deals with similar themes from a completely different view point. It is a wise and witty play that deals with large pertinent themes and poses a series of uncomfortable questions about the state of Northern Ireland now. This is my third time to have worked with Owen having previously directed his adaptation of Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece ‘The Chairs’ and the aforementioned ‘Quietly’. ‘Fire Below’ seems to combine qualities and techniques from both these plays.  It is like an absurdist comedy of manners, while two couples of the middle classes ignore the edge of darkness as it comes slowly creeping in.”

The Lyric is supported through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds. Gilly Campbell, Drama Officer at the Arts Council, commented:

“Owen McCafferty is one of Northern Ireland's leading contemporary playwrights and we are proud to help stage his latest work. A respected artist in his field, Owen’s plays are always eagerly anticipated, and Belfast audiences will be the very first to see this Lyric Theatre and Abbey Theatre co-production when it opens here in October.”


The premiere of a new play by Owen McCafferty
Directed by Jimmy Fay

A Lyric Theatre and Abbey Theatre Co-Production

Cast: Ruairi Conaghan, Cara Kelly, Frankie McCafferty and Ali White

Dates: 12 October - 29 October 2017
Times: Tues - Sat 7.45pm / Sat & Sun at 2.30pm
Venue: Lyric Theatre
Ticket Prices: £24.50 / £15
Box Office: T: 028 9038 1081

Fire Below (A War of Words) will then transfer to the Abbey Theatre where it will run in the Peacock from 7 – 18 November.
The production is the first Northern Irish event at the Belfast International Festival.


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