In Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme, eight men volunteer to serve in the 36th Ulster Division at the beginning of the First World War. Following their experiences, the play reaches a climax at the start of the battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 – also the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, one of the most infamous battles in British and Irish history. With heavy casualties from the Ulster Division, the Somme, like the Boyne, holds a significant place in the history of the Irish Protestant movement.
Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme premiered at Hampstead theatre in 1986 and established the reputation of playwright Frank McGuinness, who won the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright. Since then, McGuinness’s numerous plays and adaptations have been seen in the West End and on Broadway and he has become one of Ireland’s best known playwrights. He has twice returned to the Hampstead with Carthaginians and Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me.
Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme is directed by John Dove, a former long-serving Associate Director of Hampstead theatre who returns to the venue to be a part of this, the theatre’s 50th anniversary season. McGuinness’s play is one of several past hit productions which are revived to celebrate the theatre’s five decades as a new writing theatre.
For more about Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme at the Hampstead theatre, read the First Night Feature.