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Immaculate – Theatre Review

Immaculate – Theatre Review
by Hugh Maguire

Find out more about Tinderbox Theatre Company here.

Immaculate has a running time of 37mins.

This was a short performance piece by Belfast’s ever-resilient Tinderbox, in which they explore the sense of loss and some recovered memory confronting author Louise Matthews.  Based on a true story and presented through a series of narrative-focused musical pieces, we follow Louise’s discovery of the hidden sexual life of her much loved uncle Anthony who moved from Belfast, one could say fled, to live out his sexual life in London of the 1980s and 1990s.  His sexual preferences were still largely taboo in Belfast of the period and could be more openly explored in London.  But of course, London in this same period, while legally open and tolerant, was also confronting the scourge of HIV and Aids which wiped out so many men and was dismissively known as the Gay Plague, with victims the cause of their own downfall according to the tabloids of the time.

The piece explores how the loving niece pieces together the hidden components of her family history, through fragments of letters, remembered songs and phone call conversations, which all serve to recreate the life of Uncle Anthony.  The focus is on the hidden life of Anthony but of course, the wider implication is the narrative that a family or a society chooses to ignore or shun.  This of course is widespread and not just a Belfast or an Ireland story.  The hidden lives of missing families in World War II, the hidden stories of mothers in Mother & Child homes, the hidden stories of the missing in conflict situations be it Northern Ireland or Pinochet’s Chile.  With video graphics adding to the effect, and striking images of blown-up texts and correspondence we are left with a strong sense of the bond between the now adult niece and her remembered uncle.  Hidden stories are never truly hidden and they also inform who we grow up to be.  A piece like this encourages us to reflect on the hidden narratives in our own lives and families.

Immaculate written by – Louise Mathews
Cast: Louise Mathews, Rhodri Lewis

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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