Christina Reid

Share

Plays by Christina Reid

The Belle of the Belfast City

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Belle of Belfast City is a story of loyalty, both political and familial. At its centre is Dolly, once a music-hall star, whose ballads and memories weave through the play recalling the past. Vi, the elder of her daughters, stayed with her in Belfast, while the younger Rose has travelled all over the world as a journalist. She returns, bringing with her for the first time her mixed-race and illegitimate daughter Belle, who is named for her grandmother’s stage name. The extended family also includes the Protestant Loyalist fundamentalist Jack, and his sister Janet.

Against the background of protests about the Anglo-Irish Agreement, the play confronts different models of Loyalism and allegiance, a rich and honest lament.

The Belle of Belfast City was first produced in 1989 by the Lyric Players Theatre in Belfast.

Clowns: a Sequel to Joyriders

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Clowns is the sequel to Joyriders, reuniting its characters on the eve of the first IRA ceasefire, eight years after Maureen’s death.

The Youth Training Scheme centre has become the Lagan Mill Shopping Centre, and Arthur is about to open his new café-bar. Sandra returns from London where she has been working as a stand-up comedian, telling jokes about Irish people to make the English laugh. She and the play are haunted by the ghost of Maureen, a raw, mocking reminder of the tragedy that sent Sandra away. It is a play about the moment between history and future, its characters trapped by the pain of the past but faintly hopeful about an end to the conflict which has defined their lives.

Clowns was first performed in 1996 in The Room at the Orange Tree, Richmond.

Did You Hear the One About the Irishman...?

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Did You Hear the One About the Irishman . . . ? is a painful love story divided by sectarianism, and punctuated by the tasteless racist jokes of an anti-Irish comedian.

Allison’s family don’t want her to marry Brian, a Catholic whose brother is serving a life sentence for terrorist offences. Brian’s family don’t want him to marry Allison, as she is a Protestant, and the niece of a Unionist politician. The play parallels scenes of their two families, doubling characters to bring together two groups so impossibly divided. Allison and Brian’s brilliant optimistic hope that they will rise above the feud becomes heartbreaking as the play shows that the perpetuation of conflict is more powerful than either of them.

Did You Hear the One About the Irishman . . . ? was first produced during a Royal Shakespeare Company tour of America in 1985; this revised version was first performed in 1987 at the King’s Head Theatre, London.

Joyriders

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Joyriders is the moving, tragicomic story of four teenagers taking part in a Youth Training Programme in Belfast, 1986, surrounded by the violence of The Troubles. When unemployment seems their most likely prospect, it is difficult for them not to be cynical about a training scheme which seems little more than a cheap way to keep them off the streets. Some of them sometimes dare to wish for greater things, but others find that growing up surrounded by violence and crime does not leave much room for hope.

The play, with its refreshing focus on working-class young people, was inspired by Reid’s visits to Youth Training Programmes and the Divis Community Centre in Belfast in the 1980s; the songs were written and first performed by residents of Divis Flats. It opened in 1986 at the Tricycle Theatre in London. The sequel Clowns revisits the characters eight years later.

My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name?

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

My Name, Shall I Tell You My Name has only two characters, a woman and her grandfather many miles apart but speaking their reminiscences together in a tender and moving duet. Accompanied by voices from Andrea’s childhood, they recount how she grew up with the war stories of her Protestant loyalist grandfather, learning to be proud of where she came from, but discovering that there are new places to go as well. It is a simple and beautiful play, an aching cry of pacifism, full of love, pride and regret.

The play was first produced in Belfast for BBC Radio 4 in 1987; the first stage production was in 1989 at the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Tea in a China Cup

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A bittersweet history of three generations of women told through memories of family pride and tradition, and a granddaughter’s fear of being alone for the first time

Beth's elderly mother is dying. Beth tells her family’s story: of having to sell the china cabinet, never complaining, and taking pride in the photographs of sons gone off to war. Her childhood was presided over by a grandmother and a great aunt fiercely protective of Protestant standards; her adolescence was confused by a mother too respectable to explain sexuality. But beneath the cold respectability and sectarian feud is a warm heart, the melancholy of the play tinged with humour and sympathetic observation.

Tea in a China Cup was first produced in 1983 by the Lyric Players Theatre, Belfast.

Picture of Christina Reid

Christina Reid is from the Ardoyne area of Belfast and her plays provide a working-class, female and Protestant perspective on her society. Her play Did You Hear the One About the Irishman? won the Ulster Television Drama Award in 1980, while her breakthrough work Tea in a China Cup was a runner-up in the 1982 IT/DTF competition for plays by women. Other plays include Joyriders, Reid's Clowns, The Belle of Belfast City (which won the George Devine Award), and The Last of a Dyin' Race, (which won the Giles Cooper Award). She has been writer in residence at both the Lyric Theatre, Belfast and at the Young Vic, London.