Never Closer: friendship and love during The Troubles

Never Closer: friendship and love during The Troubles
Image: NEVER CLOSER, Belvoir St Theatre. Image: hero

Grace Chapple chose to draw on her Irish background in her latest work Never Closer, which focuses on how the relationships change among a group of childhood friends during “The Troubles” in 1987 as they progress into adulthood. 

The Troubles” occurred over a 30-year period from the early 1960s as the IRA waged a guerrilla war against the Brits to gain control over Northern Ireland and make it join the Irish Republic in the south.

Chapple was particularly concerned to explore how the political sphere could interfere with and disrupt relationships. 

“The benefit of setting this story in 1987 Northern Ireland is that the political is absolutely inescapable – it informs everything, simmering beneath every word spoken, threatening to boil over at any moment,” she explains.

NEVER CLOSER, rehearsal, 2024. Adam Sollis, Emma Diaz, Ariadne Sgouros, Raj Labade, Mabel Li, Philip Lynch. Credit: Brett Boardman.

What relevance does the play have to today’s world?

“My hope is that, although the play is set thirty years ago, audiences will feel like it’s about right now,” says Chapple. “The themes and relationships should feel very familiar; we’re exploring universal experiences of home and friendship, though the context may look a little different. That said, the kind of conflict and division in this particular time and place is by no means unique. Look to anywhere around the world that has experienced British colonial rule and you can see the patterns and problems that plague Ireland playing out today”. 

Belvoir Artistic Director Eamon Flack writes, “I haven’t seen anything so assured and accomplished in ages [as Grace Chapple’s Never Closer]. It’s a tight, mature piece of writing with some finely detailed performances in an exquisitely directed production by Hannah Goodwin. This is a chance to see a thoughtful, crafted new play by an Australia writing of her ancestral land, In six characters and a single room, Grace catches the tremors of a whole country and a whole time, with some striking resonances for here today”.

Until June 16

Belvoir St Theatre, 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills

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