I tend to like political drama, so The Troubles gets an automatic +1 magic boost from me. This one-woman show by Stephanie Henderson is all about “the Troubles” of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. She ambitiously plays a number of characters, trying to show what motivates everyone from the Molotov Cocktail-throwing thug to an old man who has seen the violence and laments his helplessness, to the eight-year old girl who has already made up her mind to seek vengeance for her blown-up brother and mother. The characters certainly give a broader perspective, even if each of them is a bit shrill. Archival footage of the violence in black and white adds an appropriate mood of grim realism to the show.
The frequent shrillness of the piece left me feeling a bit talked down to. At several points, the main character, a young woman fleeing the violence for Canada, tells the audience that if you haven’t been there yourself, there’s no way you could possibly understand the situation – as though Canadians are all uninformed hippy peaceniks singing Kumbaya around a maple tree. Hmmm. Wait a second. Maybe she does have a point, there. We are, after all, in Vancouver.