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Hard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer

“Deeply moving”

Oona Doherty’s Hard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer is inspired by the people of her home city. It explores the things that lie hidden beneath the mask of masculinity.

The piece is split into sections. In the first, choral music fills the theatre only to be drowned out by the sounds of a heated argument. This transforms into a collage of sounds that shift and overlap. Dressed in white, Doherty viciously shakes her body, her fists clenched, anger seeping from every muscle. But her eyes are watery; she’s trying to fight back the tears. Every gesture Doherty creates is filled with deep emotion.

In the next section, a group of teenage women – the “Sugar Army” – enters. They embrace one another before moving into a sharp hip-hop sequence, dancing as one unit. Their performance is a show of strength; they are not going to be taken for a ride.

The final scenes are the most resonant. Two men enter and provide us with a glimpse of the unspoken vulnerability that lies behind their masculine armour. They shuffle around the stage, holding each other. Are they embracing or wrestling? Are they supporting one another or pushing each other away?

Ciaran Bagnall’s cage-like design is remarkable; it constantly redefines and changes the space. As the piece comes to a close, sharp beams of light hit the bars, creating a startling altar. Like the piece as a whole, it’s deeply moving.

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Production Details
Production nameHard to be Soft: A Belfast Prayer
VenueLyceum Theatre
StartsAugust 21, 2019
EndsAugust 24, 2019
Running time50mins
ComposerDavid Holmes
ChoreographerOona Doherty
Set designerCiaran Bagnall
Lighting designerCiaran Bagnall
CastAaliyah El-Salahi, Alexandra Myers, Amy Lindsay, Cleo Jasmine Luna, Collette Dance, Daisy Morcom, Evie Craig, Jasper Harris, John Scott, Kerry Monaghan, Leigh Vallance, Mariana Moreira, Max Lauder Cormac Maclachlan, Oona Doherty, Sam Finnegan, Sienna Thomson, Silvie Furneaux, Stuart Manson, Trisha Muco
ProducerPrime Cut Productions
VerdictOona Doherty's deeply moving dance piece inspired by the men and women of Belfast
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