Reviews EdinburghNationalReviews Published 30 August 2016

Review: Greater Belfast at Traverse

Traverse ⋄ 4th- 28th August 2016

The sleech and the sounds and the silt: Katherine Kavanagh reviews Matt Regan’s conjuring of Belfast.

Katherine Kavanagh
Greater Belfast at Traverse, Edinburgh.

Greater Belfast at Traverse, Edinburgh.

It’s not… It’s not the… It’s not the voice that’s another instrument, but the words. Words that soar and slide, elide meaning into a conscious dream of Belfast. Its muck. No, not muck. Foundations. Beauty. It’s a kind of… Words. Words that combine with violins, viola, cello, museums and memory, like sand, like sea. Like sleech. You see, Matt Regan was born in Belfast. He grew up amid the muck, the music, the mundane shite and the obscenity of accent that lilts and spits on the Ts and the Ks. That sort of craic. He left the land behind him, moved across the water, but the city hasn’t left. It seeps through him, like sand. Like sleech. Foundations. Beauty. It’s not… It’s not the… It’s not the voice that’s another instrument in this modern, minimalist opera, it’s the words.

It’s the obscenity in the T words, THE T word that… Wait, we don’t need to talk about that do we? It hangs, like a spit, the T’s and the K’s, and the music. Do you like the Undertones? Matt and his mates really like the Undertones. His mate, his Stiff Little Fingers mate, still there in Belfast, drinking pints in the Sunflower… Have you been? It’s… Where was I? Ohh the music. It seeps through, like…

Well, there’s Katie And Kirsty and Annemarie and Jennifer or four other members of the Cairn String Quartet (who number nine or fourteen all together, depending on where you look). That’s violins and viola and cello, from Glasgow. We’re in the Traverse theatre, a basement black box gig, sitting on three sides, but the show has come from the Tron, nurtured, developed and grown over the last year, flowering under Claire Willoughby’s direction, building something greater with Regan’s Little King. That’s the company. Or could be it’s the whole show. Where Belfast is king, an underdog power that deserves something greater than it gets. It’s the words, see? It’s the…

Washing over you, like linen, lulling half-remembered lives and lines… Is someone sleeping there? That happens, it’s alright, shhh, listen. Let the sleech and the sounds and the silt and the resounding power of love seep through you. It’s the words, see, it’s the words, and the muck, trickling through your grasp. Beauty. Shining, like the sun in a corner spotlight. Thank you for coming, listener. It means a lot. Not forgotten. Greater Belfast.

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Katherine Kavanagh is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Greater Belfast at Traverse Show Info


Produced by Little King and Tron Theatre in association with Traverse Theatre

Directed by Claire Willoughby

Written by Little King (Matt Regan)

Cast includes Matt Regan, Cairn String Quartet: Annemarie McGahon (viola), Susan Appelbe (cello), Katie Rush (violin),Kirsty Main (violin)

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