The Waterford-born writer Dave Duggan has an excellent collection of plays recently published, Plays In A Peace Process by Derry’s Guildhall Press. Some were originally written for radio and AH 6905 had a Belgrade production as well as an acclaimed outing in Kabul in Afghanistan.
It is the scope of some of this work that is impressive as the author worked through his life in Derry as the intricacies of a peace process unfolded and wavered and came about by the political will of committed people. Duggan sat in the public gallery during the Saville Inquiry as he absorbed the theatricality of peoples’ lives and stories, the flawed realities, the opposite sides, the bigoted minds, the bewildering discourse of a people in the grip of larger issues.
Scenes From An Inquiry has the ring of truth, the sting of reality and the imaginative use of a sometimes poetic language to cause audiences to re-examine older truths and weaker certainties. Sometimes you get the cut and agit prop of a Brecht but you also get the entertainment of a Dario Fo. Duggan in no way uses comedy or entertainment to dilute strong feelings but is too good a playwright to allow the opportunity to pass.
The play Waiting . . . has a Beckett feel as a Man and a Woman meet at a bus stop and the work opens out into a chilling development of a victim meeting the perpetrator of that violence. This work has been seen in New York, Edinburgh and Liverpool and it is a pity nobody took the opportunity to mount a production in Waterford.
In fact, I find it hard to understand why none of these plays have had a Waterford production.
The Shopper And The Boy is a powerful look at sectarian violence. The Boy chants No Surrender and the Shopper shouts Tiocfaid Ar La. This play hit me like a tank and it had the impact Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme had on me, what seems like a long time ago.
Duggan’s play The Recruiting Officer has a man and woman looking for a job in the IT industry and it has a contemporary resonance that is the stuff of truth, the honesty of theatre and the fear for a future.
The publication of this collection of plays will bring Dave Duggan to a wider audience. An audience he rightly deserves.