‘Wrong Man’ indicates a maturing festival

It looks like I’m going to miss the end of the Belfast run of Danny Morrison’s play The Wrong Man, which is currently playing in the Conway Mill as part of the Féile an Phobail until this weekend, when it transfers to Edinburgh. Writing in the Irish Times, John O’Farrell reckons the play’s relatively unpartisan portrayal of the IRA (subs needed) is an indication of how the Festival itself is slowly loosening itself from the politics of its foundation in 1988.

Morrison said that he “did not want to write an apologia for the IRA” or to “mythologise” them. He wanted to show the “humanity” of people who were “flawed, weak individuals”. His Provos are cocky, committed, ruthless torturers and murderers. His British squaddies are bored, cheerful, arrogant and efficient. His RUC Special Branch officers are witty, sarcastic, forensic manipulators of time, facts and people. His women characters are frustrated and impoverished widows-in-waiting. If the audience were expecting the theatrical equivalent of a “show of strength”, they were disappointed.