The Boat Factory
Poignant, moving evocation of a lost way of life
This article is from 2012.
If you don’t think a play about a shipyard sounds like your kind of thing, think again. This moving two-hander by Dan Gordon, performed by Belfast’s Happenstance theatre company, is a real gem, at once an evocation of the city’s Harland and Wolff boat builders in its heyday, and also a poignant paean to a way of work (and of life) long gone.
It’s the vividness of the play’s characters and stories that really marks it out. And it’s an authenticity only confirmed by the fact that writer Gordon, who also takes the central role, plays his father as a wide-eyed apprentice slowly learning the shipyard’s traditions and people. Michael Condron gives memorable performances as a remarkable array of striking characters who populate the place, and director Philip Crawford’s staging is tight and taut.
But despite the mischievous humour, there’s no misty-eyed nostalgia here – Gordon tackles the dangers and downsides of life in the shipyard head-on. It might seem at times a little long, but it’s the telling details of the pair’s tall tales that give the piece such a potent impact.
Hill Street Theatre, 226 6522, until 26 Aug (not 14), 6.30pm, £11–£13 (£9–£11).