David Ireland’s absurd exploration of sectarianism and identity has immense potential in a post-Brexit world but fails to find focus on account of its unbelievable premise.
Told through the prism of a therapy session, in Beck Minto’s delicately plain set, Ulster-made ultra-loyalist Eric Miller outlines, through his own bigoted lens, that his newborn grandchild is Gerry Adams.
A range of sublime and surreal events then take place – most of which would be considered spoilers if elaborated on further – that take the play to a very different space that becomes too strange to invest in.
A strong opening sketches a caricature of tortured unionist Eric, skilfully played by David Hayman – who grasps the absurdity of his Protestant character with both hands.
Eric’s bigotry is poetically penned by Ireland in a series of foul mouthed tirades that wouldn’t be out of place on a football terrace a mile or so in either direction from the Tron.
And the significance of retelling the 2016 play to Scotland’s Divided City is not lost. Everyone who takes their seat at the Tron will bring their own unique experience.
In another city, it might be shocking – but a general numbness to sectarianism means Glasgow audiences look for more than just gritty dialogue, where this play fails to deliver.
Could this all be part of Eric’s spiral into madness? Of course. Could it actually be a clever intellectual send up of the untenable position of Unionists in the shadow of a near-inevitable United Ireland? Maybe. But it’s too confused and messy to thole.
Cyprus Avenue does rise to the challenge is in dramatic moments of significance – notably Eric’s spiral that leads him to question his own unquestionable Unionism – but it’s overall impact is lost on the unbelievable premise that Eric truly believes his daughter is Gerry Adams.
The bizarre melting pot of razor sharp social commentary mixed with such a ridiculous catalyst for madness results in a lukewarm soup that entertains but doesn’t satisfy.
Cyprus Avenue at Tron Theatre, Glasgow until 25th March 2023