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Calling a spade a spade

Marie-Louise Muir | 17:19 UK time, Tuesday, 23 August 2011


The Absence of Women at the Lyric





The revival of Owen McCafferty's "The Absence of Women" at the Lyric has not only got a new cast, including Peter Gowan as Gerry and Ciaran McIntyre as Iggy, but some 200 shovels at the centre of the set design.

They're a wonderfully quirky visual :-real spades, all shapes and sizes. As I looked at them today, words like "old", "used", "loved", "looked after" sprang to mind. But then, bizarrely, so did the word "survivors".  First time I had ever thought of a shovel as a survivor. Come to mind, it's the first time I've ever thought about a shovel!

There they are, these old spades, part of a powerful moving testimony. But they are also a very poignant reminder of men like the two characters in the play, Gerry and Iggy, who spent years working the roads, railways and mines of England and who ended up in a hostel drying out and dying out.

The spades have survived, and Owen McCafferty has made sure that the men who held them survive too, even if they hung up their spades a long time ago.


"The Absence of Women" is at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast now until the 3rd of September.


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