Lyric Belfast’s Agreement hitting the headlines in New York

Published: 3 May 2024
Reporter: Michael Quinn

Owen McCafferty's Agreement at the Irish Arts Center, New York Credit: Carrie Davenport
Senator George Mitchell, President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and interviewer Donie O'Sullivan at the Irish Arts Center Credit: Irish Consulate NYC

Owen McCafferty’s drama about the Good Friday Agreement is proving to be a hit with critics in New York where it is playing at the Irish Arts Center.

First seen at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre in 2023 and revived with a partially new cast in March this year, Agreement has opened in New York to widespread acclaim. The New York Times praised it as an “impeccably acted production” and went on to laud it as “a meditation for this moment”.

Earlier this week, former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton (one-time presidential candidate and currently Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast) and Senator George Mitchell, linchpin of the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, attended a performance and took part in an after-show discussion.

Directed by Charlie Westenra, Agreement’s New York transfer is the second venture between the Lyric Theatre and the Irish Arts Center following last year’s enthusiastically received sharing of the musical Good Vibrations.

That show’s set designer, Grace Smart, has just been nominated for a prestigious Drama Desk award for her contribution to the portrait of punk rock icon Terri Hooley.

Among other plaudits for McCafferty’s play about the tortured negotiations leading up to the signing of the historic accord that brought peace to Northern Ireland, The New York Sun declared “Like Hamilton, the play makes high drama out of papers and proposals”.

Theater Scene described it as “an extraordinary experience that never falters in its engagement with the audience”, adding praise for “an outstanding ensemble of actors [who] beautifully executes Charlotte Westenra’s direction”.

Lighting and Sound America admired the play and production for turning “a protracted political wrangle into the stuff of urgent drama”.

The Lyric Theatre’s Executive Producer, Jimmy Fay, said: “We are elated with the fantastic reviews Agreement has received in NYC. It is testament to the immense talent across the whole production team to achieve this acclaim. We are also delighted to continue our partnership with the Irish Arts Center. Their support has been vital in helping us showcase this incredible place and our story to a transatlantic audience, especially in NYC. We are also very grateful to all our funders for their support in helping us get there.”

Agreement continues its run at the Irish Arts Center, New York until May 12.

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