A few years ago, I laughed my way through Martin Lynch’s The History of the Troubles (According to my Da!) in some of the cheapest seats that Belfast’s Grand Opera House had to offer. It was the show’s “third and final” season.
A three hander, with the well known radio and UTV news reporter Ivan Little (little in name only) taking the central role of Gerry Courtney (Da), alongside Conor Grimes and Alan McKee in a sparse set.
The story follows Da’s journey from spectator to participant, taking him from Belfast bars to a spell in Long Kesh. The best laughs are in response to the brilliant lines from a character called Fireball, delivered with a lisp and perfect comic timing.
For many of us thirtysomethings (and younger) who were born during the Troubles, some of the history happened before we had matured to an age of political awareness. Since I’m no history anorak, in my head I had crudely assigned labels to some of the episodes that were touched on in the show: mostly “don’t-know-the-detail-but-don’t-like-that”. At times I felt uncomfortable with the material. There was a feeling of giving in to peer pressure and joining the rest of the theatre audience to laugh at situations that were now assigned to the past.
Thinking back that was good. Our past can’t be forgotten, and can’t be ignored. But if too many of us overanalyse it, we will never get our foot of the clutch to drive forward into better days. So the show is hilarious, yet shocking when you realise that you’re laughing at this countries bloody history and at opinions that are probably only slightly removed from real people.
The show went on to run for a spell in London’s West End. I dread to think how little of the dialogue would have been deciphered by the London audience!
But now it’s back for a “record-breaking 5th run” and updated with some new material, it’s well worth a trip to Grand Ole Opera House between Monday 12 and Saturday 17 February.
“The balloon is up!” as Fireball would say. Get your tickets booked early.