I went to see Danny Morrison’s play the Wrong Man this week. The story has it all, paranoia, intrigue, betrayal, and the play’s not bad either.
Morrison’s drama about an IRA volunteer accused of being an informer is inevitably overshadowed by his own personal history. In 1990, he was convicted in connection with the abduction of informer Sandy Lynch. He maintains his innocence, and believes he may have been set up by another alleged spy within the republican movement, Freddie Scappaticci.
The Wrong Man has a definite air of authenticity which underlines the author’s knowledge of its subject matter. Having said that, it would be difficult to guess from the play that Morrison is a former publicity director of Sinn Fein. Indeed, I’ve heard it said that some republicans are unhappy with the portrayal of the IRA in the play. The closest thing to a coherent political perspective comes from RUC characters, and the overall mood is one of war-weariness.
Morrison has been unable to get the play staged in Ireland and believes there are political reasons for this. In truth, it’s difficult to see what there is in the play to object to, other than perhaps the identity of the author.
Some critics have said the play is just not very good. In fact the action and Morrison’s dialogue sustains interest very well for the most part, except maybe for a couple of scenes where the scope for Belfast banter is limited.
The play has definite merits, providing a real insight into life in the IRA and in the communities that sustained it in the latter part of the Troubles, one which perhaps helps explain the birth of the peace process.
It’s certainly well worth taking up the opportunity to see it in the intimate setting of the Pleasance Theatre in Islington, where its running until 3 April.