New Arrivals make for great drama

Louise Parker, Melissa Dean, Narthanael Campbell and Robert Bertrand in Arrivals2

Louise Parker, Melissa Dean, Narthanael Campbell and Robert Bertrand in Arrivals2

Have you ever spent any time in a house that was lived in by a diverse group of immigrants? Have you ever wondered what life is like for the Roma, the Africans, the eastern European who are living in what used to be one of the most homogeneous places in Europe?

I saw Arrivals last year and it was an eye-opener as to the lives of Belfast’s Chinese and Indian communities, No wonder then that I headed off to the Crescent Arts Centre for Arrivals2, another set of five short plays by hugely respected playwrights, focusing on the inner and outward lives of different ethnic minorities.

They say the only good sequel was Godfather II but Arrivals2 was even better than its predecessor.

Daragh Carville’s opener, The Presence, set the tone with a group of immigrants being haunted by an unknown presence in their home, telling them to get out. Scary and chilling but not without humour, it told of the fear that some newcomers feel even in their own homes.

Jim Meredith’s Secrets was about a black brother and sister, the offspring of a British soldier. The daughter was conceived in Belfast while the brother was born in England to a different mother. The relationship between the siblings was as complex as you could imagine.

Nathanael Campbell and Robert Bertrand in Arrivals2

Nathanael Campbell and Robert Bertrand in Arrivals2

Maggie Cronin’s play was the funniest of the five, with a quartet of medical students looking for a house in the Union Jack-festooned area around the City Hospital.

One of the black students is an Orangeman, a member of “the biggest lodge in Accra” and this adds a little frisson to the nascent romance between himself and his Catholic girlfriend.

The tension between a black lesbian angel and her beer-swilling lover is at the heart of Deirdre Cartmill’s The Lost Soul’s Party while the evening finished with Fionnuala Kennedy’s Hatchet, a tour de force by actor Nathaniel Campbell about growing up as a black kid around the Hatchet Field on the Black Mountain.

Another triumph for up-and-coming Terra Nova theatre company, Arrivals2 works brilliantly, showing us the human face of our new neighbours at the same time speaking to our own prejudices and it really should be seen by everyone. It’s now on tour and details can be found at terranovaproductions.net/arrivals2.

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