Green and Blue
Premiering at a former British military base in Belfast, this challenging but tasteful dramatisation humanises the uniforms patrolling the border at the height of the Troubles
Green and Blue is a moving and thought-provoking new play which aims to humanise the police officers working on both sides of the Irish border during the Troubles.
The one-hour show explores the isolation, pain and at times humorous elements of life experienced by the individuals who patrolled the border during the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland.
Based on an oral archive of serving RUC and An Garda Síochána officers compiled by Diversity Challenges and Queen's University Belfast, the new production stars Vincent Higgins as Constable David McCabe from Newcastle, Co Down and James Doran as Garda Eddie O'Halloran from Cork.
With a minimal set behind them, the two mustachioed men, in their respective green and blue uniforms, stand facing the audience and through their friendship, at first only by radio communications, we learn about their perspective of policing of the South East Fermanagh and Monaghan areas.
'They call it the dark north,' is the Garda's opening line.
The characters discuss their 'life in a uniform' and some of the same arguments that are played out among people today are addressed.
One is over Ulster being a province of nine counties or the six counties of Northern Ireland. 'Calling it Ulster doesn't make it Ulster,' the Garda says.
The RUC man talks about not being seen as a person but rather viewed just as a 'peeler' or a 'black bastard'. 'It's a strange feeling being hunted,' he says.
And the Garda speaks of the isolation he feels in his community too. 'We are a uniform, not real people,' he remarks.
The exchanges between the two characters about where the border actually is, is an interesting element of the play given the new real-life focus on Brexit at the moment and what might happen to the border in the aftermath of the UK's vote to leave the EU.
Though they are wildly different circumstances the play reflecting how border communities faced unique challenges during the conflict throws into sharp focus how they might again in the fallout from Brexit.
When the police officers finally meet there is humour in them tentatively stepping into each other's patch.
Reflecting what it must have been like when coming under attack during the conflict, moments of amusement in the play end sharply when violence looms.
On occasions the audience finds itself laughing and following normal conversation and then all of a sudden the reality of conflict abruptly ends that and feelings of fear and a sense of doom takes over.
Vincent Higgins, Laurence McKeown and James Doran
Green and Blue is premiering at the Girdwood Community Hub, a former British military base, in north Belfast, in the weekend before it tours Ireland. It's staging at this location is not lost on the audience, many of whom stay behind after the performance to speak to the production team about their thoughts on the new play.
Produced by Kabosh theatre in association with Diversity Challenges, it is directed by Paula McFetridge and rather unexpectedly is written by playwright Laurence McKeown, a former republican prisoner and hunger striker.
Kabosh is keen to stage this play wherever it is welcome and feels that a broad range of people including children would benefit from hearing the men's stories.
I would agree that the production should reach as wide an audience as possible and feel there would be few who could argue that it's not tastefully handled and a honest reflection of what was experienced.
As the production develops the life experiences of the police officer's families could be incorporated, as theirs is another untold story.
Of course the full picture of policing during the conflict in Northern Ireland goes beyond the viewpoint of police officers. Theirs is not the only truth to be told, it is an element of the overall story, but an important one and perhaps one that society has not been so forthcoming in acknowledging.
Green and Blue is a thoughtful, challenging and entertaining dramatisation of an oral history project, casting light on police officers lives as they saw it. It does well in humanising police officers and is well worth watching should it come to your area.
Green and Blue is now touring venues across Northern Ireland and the south, with upcoming performances at Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry (October 25), Strule Arts Centre, Omagh (October 26), Garage Theatre, Monaghan (October 27), Ards Arts Centre, Newtownards (October 28), Civic Theatre, Dublin (October 29), Alley Theatre, Strabane (November 2), An Táin, Dundalk (November 3), Mullagh Community Hall, Cavan (November 4) and the Playhouse, Derry~Londonderry (November 5). For tickets visit and more information visit www.kabosh.net.