Gibraltar Strait
Production Photo: Brassneck Theatre Company

Five sterling, committed performances and multiple points-of-view permeate the atmosphere upstairs at Belfast's MAC Theatre for Hugh Stoddart's Gibraltar Strait.

Originally staged in 1990, two years after three IRA members were shot dead in Gibraltar by the SAS, the newly revived play, directed by Tony Devlin, draws from a series of facts, emotion and intuition from various perspectives around the event – reporters, judges, mothers, daughters, IRA, SAS, English, Irish, Spanish – in a concise, ambitious and engrossing undertaking.

The set generally consists of a mere five chairs, and background projection of video footage whenever it is required. Rather than a straightforward narrative, Gibraltar Strait revolves around anecdotes connected to the shootings, otherwise known as Operation Flavius, and everyone involved, ensuring a scattered structure that nonetheless retains prime emphasis on its focal point while every single actor freely and at times commandingly emotes and expresses in numerous dialects.

Meeting the challenge most impressively are Terry Keeley as an English journalist, The Fall's Séainín Brennan as a Spanish witness, and, above all, Danielle Magennis as Mairead Farrell. Magennis's recollections of Farrell's time in prison open an invaluably affecting window into the person behind the choices.

Divisive in its opinions but unifying in its impact, Gibraltar Strait has endured and will continue to endure as an especially powerful expose of how individual beliefs can shape the personal and public perception of historic events - and how valuable open-mindedness always is in fully grasping their truthful, humane undercurrents.

Simon Fallaha

Gibraltar Strait runs at The MAC, as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival, until Saturday October 27th.