A few weeks ago, The Playhouse Derry/Londonderry opened it’s doors to The Monk, The Bird and The Priest by writer Dr Liam Campbell and Producer/Director Kieran Griffiths.
The play tells the stark and all too familiar account of abuse experienced by young men (and women) within the Catholic Church in Ireland. With the setting for this story taking place in a college.
The Monk, The Bird and The Priest were first introduced to us by the narrator and former pupil of the college, Jonny Regan, as he gave his account of his school days, We met the monk; the dictator and authoritarian who judged pupils based on their social standing. The Bird; an eccentric and egotistical priest who revelled in the power bestowed in him thanks to the Church; and the Priest, the beacon of hope and a forward thinking young Priest whose main concern was the welfare of the students, not the reputation of the Church.
The choreography and the fluid movement of the cast on stage, turning courtyards into classrooms, with only painted boxes for props sent me back to the nervous energy felt by me in my school days during maths class.
The abuse and torment suffered was well executed and powerful, but not easy to watch, as you could tell by the expressions of some of the audience members.
Finally, towards the end of the play, the audience gets justice; as the Priest confronts the Monk, bringing aloud the undercurrent of abuse, which had been avoided throughout the performance.
This was an extremely professional production, but as an audience member, I left feeling drained given its heavy subject. There was support information available for anyone affected by the performance.