Continuity – Review

It’s hard for people in England to fully comprehend the strength of feeling that exists – going back generations – in Northern Ireland.

We’d be naive to think that The Good Friday Agreement signalled the end to hostilities. For some patriots the fight goes on.

“There was a war on. There is still a war on,” says terrorist Padraig Devlin in Irish playwright, Gerry Moynihan’s, riveting one-man play, Continuity, which has just opened at London’s Finborough Theatre.

We don’t see nearly enough modern Irish plays in England’s theatres so it’s good to see Moynihan attempt to redress the balance, in his own small way, with a powerful and compelling piece that grips your attention for the moment actor Paul Kennedy walks on stage.

Through 80 minutes the audience sits transfixed as Kennedy regales us with his story, the tale of a man whose crisis of conscience, and the love for his family and girlfriend, puts him at odds with a cause ingrained into his DNA.

Kennedy’s strong and lyrical Irish accent helps the flow of the narrative which starts during one boozy night in a bar and ends dramatically on the way to carry out a bombing.

We meet Devlin in the pub and he is at his most playful, a skinful of drink inside him, his two mates egging him on and breaking into song (and what a lovely voice he has too).

But he is almost stopped mid-flow by the sight of a gorgeous woman who has just entered the room. A flirtatious glance, Dutch courage from the ale, and the pair shyly hit it off.

But his growing relationship with the young Spanish girl upsets both his hard-line pals, Eammon and Joe, who, like him, are members of the Continuity IRA, a terrorist cell still fighting for Irish unity despite the peace accord.

Devlin reveals shocking details about his life but the gregarious Ulsterman charms with occasional comments thrown out to the audience (putting them on edge. “Should we answer, should we play dumb?”).

Moynihan’s clever dialogue wrong-foots throughout. We’re laughing at Devlin’s innocence around his girlfriend – it feels like this may be the mechanic’s first real relationship in a life fuelled by violence – but then his face turns hard as he spouts the terrorist dogma handed down from his father and his father before him.

Shocking, powerful, unnerving and completely spellbinding, Continuity has theatre-goers on the edge of their seats from beginning go end.

An incendiary performance from Kennedy and a complex, engrossing play from relative newcomer Moynihan.

Continuity is running at Finborough Theatre for just three more performances on Aug 13, 14 & 15, but is sure to be back.

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