Cyprus Avenue – Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow

Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys

David Ireland’s Cyprus Avenue was described as “the most shocking play on the London stage” in 2016. In a city that is no stranger to sectarian strife, it may have resonance, but does it have the same degree of shock value? The answer has to be a most definite yes.

Belfast Unionist Eric Miller (David Hayman) is convinced his five-week-old grand-daughter is that stalwart of Irish Republicanism, Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams: “Gerry Adams without the beard” and with “Fenian eyes”. The depth of these delusions are revealed through Eric’s conversations with his therapist Bridget and interactions with wife Bernie, daughter Julie and ultimately “UVF angel” Slim.

Belfast born and Glasgow residing playwright David Ireland has the deftest of touches, managing to confront head-on the issues of deep-rooted sectarianism and mental health. Ireland lulls us into a sense of optimism, the nervous laughs inevitably elicited by the uncomfortable familiarity with the sectarian proclamations, but cleverly sows the seeds of doubt that this could ever possibly end well.

The dense dialogue is as lyrical as it is punchy, as laced with hysterical humour as it is abhorrent violence. There are pressure cooker levels of tension. It’s a steady simmering build as Eric descends deeper and deeper into the chasm of a mental health crisis.

In the hands of such an acclaimed actor as Hayman, and despite Eric’s vile proclamations, he still elicits sympathy from the audience. The depiction of Eric’s underlying vulnerability both physically and mentally as his issues become more and more acute, is testament to Hayman’s talents as an actor. He is utterly mesmerising, magnetic and his impressive ability to bear almost the entire ninety minutes of dialogue on his shoulders is astonishing. Hayman rightfully holds his reputation as a Rolls Royce of the acting world.

This is not an easy watch, the subject matter alone off-putting to some and the ending an absolute gut-punch but is absolutely essential viewing. Quality oozes from every pore of this production.

Runs until 2 March 2024 | Image: Contributed

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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