Green and Blue is a touching and thoughtful production about two police officers patrolling opposites sides of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland during the Troubles. It’s a subtle look at borders, friendship and what it means to represent a nation through your uniform. As the prospect of a Brexit induced hard-border on the island of Ireland rumbles on, the topic seems more poignant than ever.
Sprinkled with both history and humour.
In its concept and execution the production is refreshingly simple. Two middle-aged, mustachioed, uniformed men sit centre stage on stools positioned about a metre apart. Behind them a projector flicks through various blurry images of landscape, presumably the controversial border.
After a minute or so you notice that the men are not actually wearing the same uniform - one is dark green the other navy blue. Their names are Eddie and David; one works for the Garda Síochána, the Irish police force, while the other for the Royal Ulster Constabulary, its Northern counterpart during the Troubles.
Through their conversations, which mainly take place over walkie-talkie, we learn about the experiences on the border, the ever-present threat of violence they endure, their own communities’ suspicion towards them, as well as their personal lives.
The two actors (James Doran and Vincent Higgins), under the commendable direction of Paula McFetridge, do a stellar job of delivering Laurence McKeown’s script in a way which is understated and subtle. There is great humanity in their performances and we are moved to empathise intensely with the fear, aimlessness, grief and boredom of their situation. Their interactions are sprinkled with both history and humour.
If, like me, you’re not very clued-up on this period of history, then it's easy for some of the show’s finer details to get lost, although this loss of nuance does not stop the show from being wholly compelling. At times, the gently drifting projection jars with the pace of the performance and become a distraction, although this is a minor gripe.
There’s never any overt mention of Brexit in the production but the issue hangs spectrally over the whole show. It remains possible that a recalcitrant stand-off between the UK and EU could lead to the brazen reinstating of hard-border and a consequent resurgence in violence. Green and Blue provides an unflinching reminder of why that prospect should make us very, very worried.