Lyric comedy looks at murkier side of suburbia

EVER wondered who to blame for society’s ills – the parents, the youth of today… ourselves? Rehearsals are under way at the Lyric Theatre Belfast this week for The Civilisation Game – a sparky new comedy which takes a wry look at our so-called ‘broken society’.

The Civilisation Game, which debuts on the Northern Bank Stage in May, is a wickedly dark comedy thriller set in suburbia that will stir the imagination of many a would-be armchair judge.

Tim Loane, the creator of Channel 4’s hit series Teachers, wrote and directs this satirical farce that challenges how well you know your neighbours or yourself.

Guy and Roisin are settling down to start a family, right now in fact, on their first night in leafy suburbia when young Robbie from the nearby estate bursts in to shatter the perfect mood, the perfect moment and any chance of them starting the perfect life.

They’ve got him cornered and they could call the police but what’s the point if the kid’ll just get a slapped wrist? Especially when new neighbours Peter and Amanda land in on them with much more entertaining ideas of criminal justice. So the burglar’s going nowhere and for one night only they can do what they like with him. All social etiquette descends into carnage as the neighbours waver between calling the police, letting him go and serving up their own revenge along with a delicious slice of cream sponge!

The burning issues of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ which have been brought into sharper focus with the recession, the Occupy demonstrations and last year’s London riots give the play a darker resonance. But Tim Loane’s sharp pen and direction make this a fun, if thought-provoking, night out.

The play stars an excellent cast including Alan McKee (one half of comedy duo Grimes and McKee), Allie Ford (Give My Head Peace), Ryan McParland (Six Degrees), Eugene O’Hare (Waking the Dead) and Cathy White, fresh from a run at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin with the musical comedy Improbable Frequency.

The Civilisation Game is the first original new play to debut on the Lyric’s Northern Bank Stage.

Lyric Artistic Director, Richard Croxford, said: “We wanted to stage something special to mark the first anniversary of the Lyric’s reopening last May and Tim Loane has come up trumps with his provocative new comedy for the Northern Bank Stage. We are delighted to be continuing our support for new writing and I know our audiences will relish this truly funny and insightful piece.”

Rhonda Gibson, External Relations Manager at Northern Bank said: “It hardly seems like a year since we were all eagerly anticipating the first production on the Northern Bank Stage.  Since then it has been a joy to watch the stage come to life through a diverse range of fantastic performances.  We are delighted that the first anniversary of our partnership will coincide with the first original new play to open on the stage – two significant milestones and an exciting time for all involved.”

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council, commented: “This latest drama from the Lyric Theatre kicks off their second year and will no doubt build upon their growing reputation as Northern Ireland’s leading producing theatre. The Arts Council is proud to help support the Lyric’s programme of commissioning, which brings another new work by a local writer from page to stage.”

The Civilisation Game runs on the Northern Bank Stage at the Lyric from 3 – 26 May 2012. Tue – Sat 7.45pm / Sat & Sun 2.30pm / Thu 24 2.30pm