‘Explosion’ of heroin in Ireland captured in gripping play

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Barry O'Connor, one of the actors in Theatre Club's Heroin, which is in the Lime Tree Theatre this month
SOMETIMES the weightiest of subject matters can make for the best entertainment, as is the case with Theatre Club’s award winning play Heroin, a raw and affecting glimpse at the drug’s social history in Ireland.

SOMETIMES the weightiest of subject matters can make for the best entertainment, as is the case with Theatre Club’s award winning play Heroin, a raw and affecting glimpse at the drug’s social history in Ireland.

Focusing on 40 years of the explosion of the use of the drug, the dramatic tale is informed by writer/director Grace Dyas’ experiences of a residency in a methadone clinic in Dublin and working with community groups in Rialto, where she is from.

The deeply impressive 24 year old explains that Theatre Club’s work is about social issues and provoking debate, but stresses that the play, running in the Lime Tree next week, is “not an educational film that you watch in school”.

“It is an entertaining piece of theatre; it is art,” she says.

“You can’t avoid learning something from it, but even if you don’t feel like you want to do something about it, or are affected by it, it is a good experience.”

The three-hander features characters that represent differing perspectives, that of society and struggles with addicts, that of the addict and the journey they take, and a recovering addict, from a female perspective, inspired by Rachel Keogh’s autobiography Dying to Survive.

The piece also attempts to tackle societal ignorance towards addicts, says Grace.

“People are genuinely innocent and don’t understand and then there is the ignorance of the state and politicians who deliberately decided to deny that there was a heroin problem for years,” she explains.

“That lead to endemic proportions of no services being available to people - that is where you have the epidemic.”

“When I became an adult I noticed the lack of empathy that is there for people who use drugs, and the ignorance.

“These people are abused by society around them and that leads them to take drugs, and then are further abused when they are drug users.

“When you understand, you can do something, and that is what led to the play.”

Heroin has been performed in a number of settings for different audiences, as well as in Cork, and in coming to Limerick Grace was keen that local perspectives inform the piece.

The playwright went and met different groups in the city that work with addicts, some of whom will attend the play, and received “hugely welcoming and supportive” response.

“The play is written but it is also improvised, it is set in the moment, it is never a document that can’t be moved, it is always changing,” she explains.

“I am looking talk to people to see if there is something else that needs to be brought into it from this context, how could the two speak to each other in the most useful way.

“This is a very sensitive issue for people here, you don’t to do something blindly and it is important for me to know the context in which I am presenting this piece of work to people who are really living it day in day out down here.

“And also because I think this will provoke a dialogue, it will get people talking about it.”

Heroin runs in the Lime Tree from September 25-27.