- Text size: A A

The Lantern Man Lights the Dark Corners of World War I

23 August 2016

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council are delighted to welcome The Lantern Man, a new play by award winning playwright Jane Coyle, to The Old Courthouse, Antrim on Wednesday 14 September at 7.30pm.

From the writer of The Suitcase (winner of the Audience Award at the 2015 Belfast International Arts Festival), The Lantern Man is a moving human drama, set against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent periods in Irish history - the months leading up to the Easter Rising.  It began its life as a staged reading at the Pick’n’Mix Festival in the MAC in June 2014 and has since been read at the Lyric Theatre, FĂ©ile an Phobail, South Bank Playhouse and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat.

The play now comes to full production with Dublin-based actor Shane Whisker in the title role.  Shane was the first actor to read the role at Pick’n’Mix.  The top level cast is completed by Cathy Brennan-Bradley, Hannah Coyle, James Doran, Julie Kinsella, Noel McGee and Libby Smyth.

The play's central character is Johnny McGrath, a young man damaged in body and spirit. He returns to Dublin from active service on the Western Front, only to discover that he has inherited hundreds of glass lantern slides showing images of the troops at war.  He decides to put them on show, to tell an increasingly critical public the real story of what their men are enduring in this bloody conflict.  He brings together two women from different social backgrounds, united by a terrible event which unfolded in the heat of battle. As tensions rise around him, Johnny learns that there is more to the pictures than meets the eye.

The storyline was inspired by the discovery of a box of World War I lantern slides in the organ loft of Alexandra Presbyterian Church in north Belfast in 2013. Closer inspection revealed images of soldiers and sailors in World War I uniforms.  They were the work of the famous Belfast photographer Alex. R. Hogg, who had been asked to put together a lantern slide exhibition ‘of our men at the front’.  That collection is now known as The Castleton Lanterns.

Tickets are priced at £10 & £8 (Concession) and are available from the Box Office: 028 9446 3113 or 028 9448 1338.