Pulling the Thread

World's fastest play premieres in Linen Hall library - blink and you'll miss it

An experimental take on the conventional play has premiered at the Linen Hall Library as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s. Customers and library patrons were invited to be part of the audience of the world’s fastest play, entitled Pulling the Thread.

The 60 second play, which is part of the A Minute of Your Time series was staged in the Linen Hall café as customers enjoyed their lunch. The production, written by Dennis Louden and performed by Killian Bolland, is the first co-production between Ransom and Kabosh production companies.

Directors Rachael O’Riordan (Ransom) and Karl Wallace (Kabosh) have staged the innovative plays in celebration of new writing in new spaces as part of the Celebrate Belfast initiative. The premise of the play is a world first and is cast in the mould of performance art.

Killian casts a lonely figure at a café table with a sign with the title A Minute of Your Time. Gradually members of the public gravitate towards the table and sit down to hear what he has to say. His small audience sit motionless, while he twitches furiously. As he gazes into the distance he fixes on a figure – the person he is waiting for. He is transfixed by the buttons on the figure's coat and talks of his strong urge to pull the threads.

When the monologue ends the audience are left speechless at his outburst and they sit in uncomfortable silence. When he is finished he gives his audience a card saying ‘thank you for listening'.

Speaking to CultureNorthernIreland, Killian Boyland, who plays the character, said: ‘These plays are trying to break the perceived barrier between theatre and reality. It’s about bringing the theatre to the people.’

But Boyland admits performing in such an intimate space is quite unnerving. ‘The play is more environmental than a conventional setting because you have none of the constructs of performing in a real theatre.

‘The play is interesting in that there is an understanding between the performer and his audience and there is something more engaging about performing in this type of space.’

Although the character does not reveal his name or any details of his life, Boyland said the character has many personas. ‘There have been many different readings of the character. Is he a boy? Someone who is mentally disabled? But it comes down to the individual's perception.

‘The character is very spontaneous but it is also very lonely. In the last line he warns if you pull a thread everything unravels. There is this concept that everything ends in trouble.’

The audience are left on tenter-hooks and the sudden end to the play leaves the audience wanting more. In the words of one audience member, perhaps slightly missing the point: ‘It would make an excellent full length play.’

Boyland said the reaction has largely been positive. ‘It has been a very interesting experience over the last week. Some people even tried to talk to me during it.’ Plaudits, including Omagh actor, Gerard McSorely told him it was a very interesting project and extremely brave because there was no comfort of the theatre.

The drama is one of seven one minute plays which premiered across the city from coffee shops to doctors surgeries to park benches. Actors Maria Connolly and Richard Dormer (Hurricane) also feature in the series.

By Heather Simpson