REVIEW: Kat’s show a ‘must see’

FRINGE... Kat picture with Martin Hall, who the play is about, and Declan Perring, who acts in the play

FRINGE… Kat picture with Martin Hall, who the play is about, and Declan Perring, who acts in the play

Caoilfhionn Maguire reviews Kat Woods’ Belfast Boy at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. The Enniskillen-born director is taking the show home on November 1…

Written by playwright and Fermanagh girl Kat Woods, Belfast Boy is based on the true story of Martin Hall’s life. Martin suffers insomnia and is referred by his GP to a psychiatrist.

We, the audience, are the eyes and ears of the psychiatrist as we witness the unraveling of Martin’s life.

Declan Perring weaves together his flawless acting skills with Kat’s exceptional scriptwriting in this intimate realisation of Martin Halll’s life on stage.

Martin, who is confident that a few pills will sort his problem, anxiously brings the audience through the tales of hardship in his life from childhood to adulthood, in a fragmented manner, aided by Perring’s portrayal of the characters nervosa.

Perring holds the character of ‘Martin’ as the centerfold of the story, but also recreates the family, friends and lovers of Martin, to colour his story and introduce an intense, raw truth that I myself have never witnessed on stage.

As the story unravels it becomes increasingly clear that the writer was aware of the impact the story would have on her audience. The only prop Perring has is a chair.

Dealing with the taboo issues of homosexuality, abuse, the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and many more that cannot be spoiled; Kat Woods has used her incomparable writing skills to maintain the gritty truth behind Martin Hall’s story. No frills or flowery bits, this one-man play is not for the faint-hearted.

Moved from laughter to tears in mere seconds, sometimes without even so much as an utterance from Perring, we follow a man through these raw ordeals and watch his guard come down, smiles fade and coping mechanisms collapse as he delivers, in penetrating verisimilitude, the gut-wrenching truths of his character’s life.

Belfast Boy addresses the stigma surrounding those who suffer from mental health issues and victim-blaming. Speaking to Kat in her first official radio interview, she told me that writing Belfast Boy was difficult as she did not want to do an injustice to Hall’s story, but also wanted the play to offer a catharsis to the beloved real-life character.

I think it offered a catharsis for audience members too, as they flooded out of the intimate space, speechless and teary-eyed.

A definite must-see, particularly for those who have never felt able to tell their story.

Blakes date for Kat

Kat is delighted to bring Belfast Boy to Blakes of the Hollow on November 1. If anyone is interested in helping with this process of ticket sales and marketing then please contact Kat or Caoilfhionn for further information: or

Kat and Declan are also bringing Belfast Boy on tour to Brighton on September 23, 24 and 27, and to Derry on October 30 in the Foyle Arts Building. Negotiations for London and Belfast stagings, as well as staging’s at Melbourne, Dublin and Scandinavia Fringes, are underway.

Enniskillen born director Kat Woods brought her award winning play ‘Belfast Boy’ back home to Blakes of the Hollow...

Local director premieres award-winning play


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