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Edinburgh Fringe 2021

East Belfast Boy by Fintan Brady

Prime Cut Productions

Genre: Dance, Drama, Theatre

Venue: Summerhall Online


Low Down

Meet Davy. The things he sees. His streets. His mates. His girl and… The Boys. ‘It is what it is. It’s hard to say what it is. It’s just, you know. What it is.’ East Belfast Boy goes digital. Filmed throughout East Belfast in the summer of 2020 and directed by Emma Jordan, East Belfast Boy features a stunning physical performance by dancer Ryan O’Neill, with voiceover by actor Terrence Keeley and a thrilling updated soundtrack by Phil Kieran.


Davy is everywhere – he sees and hears everything around him. He has travelled to several countries and East Belfast is home, where he wants to be. It’s about having mates. Looking for work daily, Davy plays football in the street, and hangs out sitting on old disowned furniture in the street to pass the time.

We are taken through gritty images of speeded up traffic with industrial pulsating techno sound and razor quick flashes of streets, cars, houses, parties and people just hanging out. Fires burn and embers fly, it is exciting!

It’s all there for Davy. He is up and down, thinks out loud, and pushes his limits. Then there is the sea…

In this evocative thirty minute filmed version of Fintan Brady’s play, directed by Emma Jordan, physical performer Ryan O Neill is Davy. O Neill is an expressive actor and an agile dancer, moving dynamically to the strong musical beat and then transitions to fluid dance motifs during ethereal soundscape, to Phil Kieran’s outstanding original music & sound design.

Davy’s weather-worn facial expression goes deep as he struggles to find what he is seeking and carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. His “boozed up weekends”, fast mood changes told in spoken text by Terrence Keeley’s voiceover are all entwined in a stream of consciousness that is tactile and heart wrenching. Davy is like many, vulnerable with real life sadnesses, challenges and rare moments of joy.

The film making is right on for the tone of this piece, with vivid to stark and almost fluorescent imagery of close ups at a party with starry hot flames; beautiful imagery of birds flying across the sky; banal street scenes; and speeded up motion sequences by director of photography Ciaran Bagnall and editor Conor Maguire.

What is Davy’s future? Like everything this is a cycle of life…and Davy deals with things as they come in his own way. Yet, the abstract and hard-hitting nature of this creative work is relatable and provokes us to think about how we are all doing at this challenging time.