After having been incredibly moved by Your Ever Loving, I was made aware of a much loved Hollywood version of the same story called In the Name of the Father. I watched the trailer and had to laugh in disbelief. The premise of the film seems to pen an english lawyer as the heroine that swoops in to free the poor innocent Irishmen locked away in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Ironically, ‘In the name of justice’ is one of the tag-lines and the film ends somewhat celebratory.
In contrast, Your Ever Loving taps into a man’s strength in the face of injustice and highlights how he refused to allow his fifteen year imprisonment to turn him into the monster the world proclaimed he was. There is nothing ‘just’ about this story and nothing can given him back those lost years, not even Emma Thompson.
Paul Hill – played flawlessly by Stefan McCusker – is haunted by a shapeshifting devil dressed as a policeman (James Elmes) who incessantly taunts him and the audience. He impersonates Hill’s girlfriend and also his priest, psychologically torturing him and pushing him into further isolation. With his garish makeup, sharp black tailoring and magnificent stage presence, Elmes plays the character with the charisma of Milton’s Satan.
The script is equally powerful, and the structure plays cleverly with the fact that the audience already know the ending. There are many moments where we think the time has come, Paul Hill dances passionately on his prison bed imagining his reunion with his family, but it is not to be. When his freedom does finally arrive, Hill crawls towards it as a man whose hopes and dreams have been crushed again and again. The drama of the finale that the audience so crave is lost ‘in a fog of language.’ The story is heart-wrenching and extremely moving, written and performed to absolute perfection.
Words: Madeleine Sanders
Your Ever Loving, Underbelly Cowgate, Aug 3-20, 12pm