Ran in Bewley’s Cafe, Sept 2009
It’s a hot night in Belfast. Johnny Meister is sweating, pumped full of energy. He roams the streets bumping into friends, popping a few pills, bumming a toke, and trying to avoid an encounter with his arch enemy The Stitch.
The argot can be as dense and menacing as that in A Clockwork Orange. And yet it’s real, taken straight from the street.
It’s a fast-paced amoral world, and we are swept along by The J.Meister who relates it all. He jumps freely into his own version of the friends he meets. His anecdotes of the past are interrupted by the impinging events of the now. There are underage girls, drugs, milfs, speeding, revenge, piss-takes, and always razor-sharp humour.
Davey Stitch takes over the monologue for the second part of the play. From J.Meister’s constant anxieties, I expected this guy to be as hard as fuck and hell-bent on revenge. In fact he is even more keen to avoid any violent encounter. But when his sister claims to have been abused by J.Meister, we can feel things are going to turn bad.
A little familiarity with the Belfast accent will serve you well in following this play. The dialogue makes no compromises for a middle-class Dublin audience. And rightly so. The play might possibly set the viewer off thinking about social deprivation, class divisions, binge drinking culture … but there are no such reflections in the drama itself. It’s just Meister and The Stitch, in their own language and on their own terms.
The playwright is Rosemary Jenkinson. I feel like saying “she has a remarkable ear for the rhythms of Belfast English” but to be honest I’ve only been to Belfast twice. I take it on trust from the excellent reviews this play has got from previous runs in Belfast and Edinburgh. I know this play is brilliant though, and acted with astounding energy. By the end of it the two lads were wringing.