A young republican hunger-striker (Robert Kane, The Belfast Tempest) threatens to starve himself to death for his beliefs, while the country’s new liberal Prime Minister promises reform to halt the riots sweeping the country. Meanwhile, France’s beautiful and enigmatic queen, Marie-Antoinette (Rachel Gadd), continues to suffer under the glare of constant media attention. In her own words, she lives ‘a life lit by a camera flash.’
Inspired both by the events of the French Revolution and the events of twentieth-century Northern Ireland, The Gate of the Year dramatizes those unforgettable, and still-relevant, few weeks when a world collapsed, telling it from the perspective of the rising republicans and the aristocracy, who decide to meet the challenge head-on.
For those interested in seeing the play, here are two reviews, including one from EILE’s own Stephen Donnan, and one from Elena Marie Vidal:
‘We are given a terrifying insight into the mind and meat of what a revolution looks like, without a shot being fired on stage. Gareth Russell’s use of language and subtle references to 20th century events (the JFK assassination, Bloody Sunday, the Corporals Killings in 1988 to name a few) pack a punch that almost feels very close to the bone at some moments. But that’s the beauty of it… The Gate of the Year is arguably one of the best stage productions in Belfast this year. … the hallmark of a masterpiece.’ – Stephen Donnan, Eile Magazine (2014)
‘Gareth Russell bridges time and space in recreating the French Revolution in our own century, making it easier to grasp, with searing pathos, what was at stake and what was lost forever… He also believably places Marie-Antoinette in contemporary times. Once again she dazzles, once again she breaks our hearts!’ – Elena Maria Vidal, author of Marie-Antoinette: Daughter of the Caesars.
The Gate of the Year was written by playwright and author, Gareth Russell. Gareth was educated at Down High School, Downpatrick, and then studied History at St Peter’s College, Oxford. He is the author of the ‘Popular’ series of novels, comedies set in a fictional Malone Road grammar school, first published by Penguin in 2011.
The last instalment in the Popular series, ‘Say You’ll Remember Me’, was performed as a play at the MAC as a sell-out run in January 2016.
Gareth is also the author of several non-fiction books, including The Emperors: How Europe’s Rulers were Destroyed by the First World War.
His next book, Young and Damned and Fair: The Life and Times of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII, will be published by Simon & Schuster in the US, and HarperCollins in the UK and Ireland.
The Gate of the Year by Gareth Russell
Venue: Upstairs at the MAC Theatre, Belfast
Dates: Thursday 30th June – Saturday 2nd July 2016
Time: 8 p.m.