Last night I attended the opening performance of Nivelli's War by Charles Way with my wife and my nine-year-old daughter at The MAC Theatre in Belfast. I am indebted to the play now, as it provided such a spectacular introduction to 'grown-up' theatre to my first-born.
Cahoots NI presented an intensely atmospheric play that had my daughter giggling one second and squeezing my hand in anticipations of danger the next. The cast is stellar: Dan Gordon, Sam Clemmett, Kerri Quinn, Abigail McGibbon, Bob Kelly, Michael Lavery and Faolan Morgan. The seven actors interact with each other like a well-oiled machine, each one providing their own special brand of magic in a show that relies heavily on suspension of disbelief. But if you believe in the magic, the payoff is more than generous.
Following the tribulations of young Ernst, a boy evacuated from his home in Frankfurt and then abandoned by his new carer, Tante Sophie, in mysterious circumstances, the play is set during the tail-end of the Second World War. German aristocracy, Russian and American soldiers and a snarky hobo contribute to what is at heart a tale about family and honour with a dash of the fantastical thrown in.
Every element of the production team was on point. If anybody missed a beat, I didn't pick up on it. The beautiful piano music, combined with a trigger-happy fog machine and moody lighting, created a world of smoke and shadows with occasional and powerful licks of colour, such as the wondrous image of a simple red balloon.
One of my performance highlights was the lesson in shrugging passed down from Mr H (Bob Kelly) to Ernst (Sam Clemmett). I was also steadfastly captivated by the understated yet mischievous performance of Dan Gordon as The Great Nivelli of the future who served as an active filter to the sad past.
Loved it. I urge you to go see it.
Nivelli's War will play at The Mac Theatre from 4-11 March. Book your tickets here.