Carson And The Lady, Theatre Review, Lyric Theatre, Belfast, August 5, 2022

Michael Cameron’s latest play opened last year to mark the centenary year of the formation of Northern Ireland as a sovereign state. First set and performed in the grounds of Antrim Castle it has now made its way to the Lyric.

The set is calm and unchanging, a simple drawing room suffices; no need for dramatic lighting or overt set changes required here, all that is needed is ears and eyes. As with Cameron’s last success, Ruby, dialogue is king.

The four actor, five character play revolves around Sir Edward Carson (James Doran) and his rather peculiar relationship with Lady Jean Massareene (Rosie McClelland) and is situated in Antrim Castle, the Lady’s stately pad. Though focusing on those from high society, the work is given an added dimension as we’re invited into the private lives of those of less privilege, namely maid Ethel (Rosie Barry) and butler, Ballentine (Conor O’Donnell). The pair have plans to move to the new world but what’s fascinating is their opposing views of their employers. Ballentine is of a republican leaning while Ethel is transfixed with her lot in life and has nothing but respect for her ‘betters’.

The first 45 minutes are set in 1914, war in Europe and Ireland’s future at stake; Carson sees home rule as the only form of government. Indeed, his rousing speech to 3000 men of the Ulster Volunteer Force is perhaps James Doran’s crowning moment of this play. But for those not interested in history or politics, there’s plenty here to entertain and Cameron always has a little bit of intrigue brewing away nicely.

After the interval we jump forward to early 1921. Levity is introduced in the form of another friend of Jean. Viscount Tredegar, or Evan to his devoted Jean, is a mystic enthralled with the teaching of a certain Mr Aleister Crowley.

Conor O’Donnell’s Evan provides another level of laughter as we watch Jean double book Evan and Lord Carson for the same night. Too polite to cancel either we watch with mirth as the two opposites eye each other up a mixture of interest and slight contempt.

It’s hard to know where to put this play: political drama, class conflict, the secular versus the the mystical? What is clear that Michael Cameron has again penned an entertaining piece of historical theatre. Under the guidance of director, Colm G Doran the cast deliver two hours of genteel and sublime drama with a spine tingling climax.

There’s only tonight left so to get booking call the box office on 02890 381081 or simply visit

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