If the title sounds familiar you’re probably thinking of the film, In the Name of the Father, but you’d be on the right track because In the Name of the Son deals with the same subject.
A remarkable performance that brings tears to the eyes
In 1975 Gerry Conlon and three others were convicted of exploding a bomb in Guildford, Surrey which killed five people and injured many more as The Troubles spread from Northern Ireland to the UK mainland. The men, who became known as The Guildford Four, were sentenced to life in prison. Had the death penalty been an option for the judge they would have been hanged. They were released on appeal after fifteen years when the court found the convictions to be ‘unsafe and unsatisfactory’.
Shaun Blaney’s stunning solo show, examines the years following Conlon’s release from prison, in which he had the film made about him, toured the world, squandered all the millions pounds in compensation he received and became addicted to crack-cocaine, before finally quitting the habit, returning to Belfast and becoming a pioneer for victims of miscarriages of justice.
Blaney runs the gamut of characters Conlon met in those years, using his ability with accents and mannerisms to portray Daniel Day Lewis, posh English judges, American senators, actors, producers and directors, his mother and girlfriend and the many Irish friends and acquaintances he made. But it’s his emotional range that really brings the chronological telling of the story home, once he rises from the death bed to which cancer had consigned him, and relates so many tales and encounters.
Conlon’s father had been convicted as one of the Maguire Seven in Birmingham in another miscarriage of justice, but died in jail before his exoneration came through. Gerry Conlon never forgave himself for getting his father mixed up in that. His performance, therefore, is full of celebratory, joyful and happy moments which he contrasts with the arguments he had, the ever-present guilt he carried concerning his father and the struggles he endured with relationships and facing his mother. In the midst of this he also generates some good laughs. This emotional roller-coaster is accompanied by a fitting soundscape that also conveys and accompanies the various moods along with the lighting.
Packed with moving moments, it’s a remarkable performance that brings tears to the eyes.