Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Protestants

Robert Welch
Ramsom Productions
Soho Theatre
(2004)

Paul Hickey in Protestants

Belfast-based Ransom Productions, run by excellent director Dr Rachel O'Riordan, have just packed Edinburgh and London hit Hurricane off to New York.

They are following it up with a more academically based one-man show that has many similar characteristics.

This is the story of six Protestants covering 500 years. They stretch from the famous, Elizabeth I and Martin Luther, to the banality of a bigoted Glasgow Rangers fan and a wee boy graduating into the Lodge and violence in Armagh.

Hurricane demonstrated that Dr O'Riordan loves the dramatic and works really well with strong performers. Paul Hickey is outstanding, giving his all, as he throws accents and ideas around with alacrity.

The props also get rough treatment. Each scene has a single motif that varies from a petrol pump or full water bucket to a ladder that is both Charles I's prison and gallows.

The drama is heightened even further by superb lighting and sound design from Conleth White and Anon. respectively.

The subject matter is linked by poetic interludes delivered by a man hearing these competing voices. It is possible that he is mad, maybe though he is just a Protestant Professor, like the playwright.

Protestants does not have time to get too far under the skin of any of its subjects but the vignettes build to a larger picture of what life in this religion has meant. It also contains a wonderful invention, in a man who was a foot soldier with Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army. He saw both Charles I and Cromwell beheaded and related their gory ends with glee.

The subject matter can sometimes be a little indigestible but the wonderful production and energetic performance ensure that this a memorable hour.

Rachel Lynn Brody reviewed this production at the Traverse, Edinburgh.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher