The troubled past and traumatised future of Northern Ireland come face to face in David Ireland’s ferociously funny 2010 two-hander Everything Between Us.
It’s the first day of a newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Belfast, and in a cluttered Stormont backroom, two Protestant sisters are raking over their own tumultuous history, 11 years after they saw each other last.
Sandra (Lynsey-Anne Moffat) is an awkwardly prim politician, well-meaning and staunchly religious. Teeni (Katrina McKeever) is her wayward younger sister, forged in the fires of conflict, who’s spent the last decade on a booze-addled world tour, and who’s just barged into the new truth commission and punched its high-flying South African chairwoman – an old friend of Mandela – in the head.
Over 70 minutes, this unlikely pair delve deeper and deeper into their pasts, rubbing salt in old wounds and tearing a whole set of new ones. Protestantism, alcoholism, tribalism and racism all crop up, and all are scoured with Ireland’s gloriously scabrous wit – it’s like watching Malcolm Tucker in a Martin McDonagh play.
Neil Bull’s production – the piece’s timely English premiere, after March’s Stormont elections – is deeply rooted, sometimes obstructively so for English ears, in the scarred streets of Belfast. But it’s also emotionally rich, unapologetically hilarious, and compelling articulate about the reverberating echoes of the Troubles, with both Moffat and McKeever supplying richly detailed, comically naturalistic performances.