Northern Star by Stewart Parker


NORTHERN STAR at the Finborough Theatre, Earl’s Court, February 2011

Part of RediscoveriesUK – A three month season of rediscovered plays by writers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

‘Twas the night before Harry was stretched. And the boys they all paid him a visit”.

Never before performed in Great Britain, renowned Ulster playwright Stewart Parker’s Northern Star opens at the Finborough Theatre for a limited run of six Sunday and Monday performances as part of RediscoveriesUK, a three month season of rediscovered plays by writers from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

After the disaster of the 1798 rebellion, Henry Joy McCracken, one of Irish history’s most charming political rebels, sits awake in a half burnt-out cottage in Ulster. His child and lover sleep nearby with plans of an escape to America. Outside a Phantom Bride guards the gate of the ramshackle safe house. Henry awaits his imminent execution, but he needs to perfect his final speech to the citizens of Belfast…

(gallery of images below)

The night brings with it ghosts of friends and foes from Ireland’s past – both North and South – to recall the seven ages of his life, from youthful idealism to disillusion and despair. Each age is presented in the style of a famous Irish writer, from Boucicault and Wilde, to Behan and Beckett, in a comic, terrifying and moving journey through the missed opportunities of Irish history.

Critic’s Choice TIME OUT

**** “This bracing and beguiling evening resurrects one star and introduces a new one. Caitlin McLeod’s production deftly navigates the multitude of voices so that it comes across as the bittersweet celebration of Irishness which Parker intended.”

Rachel Halliburton, Time Out, Full review here

“Director Caitlin McLeod, who has an eye for a striking image, marshals a large cast playing innumerable parts with ease.”

Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

**** “The entire cast are magnificent in creating and switching into so many real characters. The direction is amazing in carrying the style and story through fantastic images plus manipulating such a large cast in so compact a space.”

Blanche Marvin, Peter Brook Award

“the verve, understanding and commitment to the material in Caitlin McLeod’s production make this play’s political complexities both comprehensible and thrilling”

Timothy Ramden, Reviewsgate


Written by Stewart Parker

Directed by Caitlin McLeod

Designed by Clem Garritty

Lighting Design by Elliot Griggs

Music by Ben Osborne and Tegid Cartwright

Presented by Worn Red Theatre Company in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre










(photography by Tegid Cartwright)