Playhouse premieres Bateman’s ‘A Bag for Life’

(L-R) John Paul Conaghan, actor Julie Addy, stage manager Fiona McLaughlin, director Kieran Griffiths (front), Writer Colin Bateman (front), Damian Quigley and Peter E Davidson
(L-R) John Paul Conaghan, actor Julie Addy, stage manager Fiona McLaughlin, director Kieran Griffiths (front), Writer Colin Bateman (front), Damian Quigley and Peter E Davidson

He’s one of Northern Ireland’s most acclaimed writers - and he’s not afraid to dig deep into the darker side of our collective psyche. Nor is he afraid to highlight our darkly rich sense of humour.

And both of those skills will be showcased when his new play ‘A Bag For Life’ premieres at Derry’s Playhouse next month as part of their ongoing Legacy project scheme.

It’s a play, Colin says, which looks at how we react - or over-react at times - to our past when we come face to face with it again.

“The plays centres on a young mother who goes shopping one day with her son to Tesco unexpectedly runs into the man who murdered her brother during the ‘Troubles,’ who she thought was still in jail.”

The one woman show - which will be acted by Julie Addie, who starred in BBC crime drama The Fall - follows how the mother reacts to this meeting.

“It also looks at it from the other side too,” Colin said. “If you have been involved in wrongdoing in the past, do you ever really change? Is there a part of you that could still behave in that manner?”

The play was inspired by a short story Colin wrote last year, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, called ‘The Gaining of Wisdom’.

He sent that on to his friend Pearse Moore at Derry’s Nerve Centre who suggested it might make a full length play and in turn passed it on to the team at the Playhouse - who secured it for their legacy show in 2016.

The play is being brought to life by the Derry production team, including the Playhouse’s in-house director Kieran Griffiths - and rehearsals began just last week.

“The rehearsals are going well, so far. It’s starting to take shape and come together.”

But while the message behind the work may feel a little heavy, Colin is keen to point out that audiences will not, thankfully, be subjected to a lecture.

“A diatribe on stage is the last thing I would want to see, so no, the play is not relentlessly dark. You can make a very serious point and still entertain,” he asserted.

“I think in Northern Ireland we are famed for our strong sense of humour, so the play uses that.”

The Playhouse production of ‘Bag for Life’ will run from Tuesday 5 to Saturday 9 April at 8pm. Tickets are just £10 (Preview night Tuesday 5 April, all tickets are just £5). Book on (028)71268027 or at www.derryplayhouse.co.uk.