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Ulster American

Traverse Theatre

When someone treats me like a piece of shit… I bring out my Academy Award.
It has something to say. It’s saying I’m right. Read more …

Winner of the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award as well as a Scotsman Fringe First, the most talked-about show of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 returns fresh from a smash-hit, sold out festival run.

Jay is the American Oscar-winning actor taking the lead in a new play that connects with his Irish roots. Leigh is the English director who will do anything to get noticed. And Ruth is the Northern Irish playwright whose voice must be heard. 

The stage is set for great success but when the three meet to discuss the play’s challenges and provocations a line is crossed, and the heated discussion quickly escalates to a violent climax.

Exploring abuses of power, the confusion of cultural identity and the silencing of the female voice, Ulster American is confrontational and brutally funny – not for the faint of heart, and not to be missed.

Written by David Ireland, whose play Cyprus Avenue won the James Tait Black Award 2017 and Best Play at the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2017, and directed by the Traverse's Interim Artistic Director Gareth Nicholls (How to Disappear, Letters to Morrissey, Trainspotting).

The critical consensus

A theatrical thrill ride.

***(*)(*)Michael Cox, Across the Arts

A clever, funny and poignant performance, perfectly written by David Ireland.

****(*)Steven Fraser, The Wee Review, 04/08/2018

Ireland brilliantly captures the bewilderment of a generation that knows the rules of social engagement have changed – whether on gender relations, national identity or global politics – but is hopelessly and hilariously inadequate when it comes to putting the new-found knowledge into practice.

*****Mark Fisher, The Guardian, 05/08/2018

The play’s problem is that beneath the sound and fury, it has not much to say beyond the fashionable idea – increasingly complicit with far-right thinking – that people with liberal views are all hypocrites and moral weaklings, whereas bigotry, intolerance and violence are marks of authenticity. These are, though, the times we live in and no writer conjures that zeitgeist with more theatrical nerve than David Ireland.

****(*)Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, 06/08/2018

A brutal, unsettling and uncompromising dark comedy about power.

****(*)Lorna Irvine, The List, 05/08/2018

Ireland’s hilarious play makes us laugh until it hurts, but it also asks us to question exactly why we find it so funny and the answers could be disturbing.

*****Stephen Bates, The Reviews Hub, 08/08/2018

Trailing clouds of glory from the 2018 Fringe, David Ireland’s Ulster American has returned to the Traverse with a bang. If it is not quite as good as some have said, it is still impressive – and certainly is impressively nasty.

****(*)Hugh Simpson, All Edinburgh Theatre, 22/02/2019

This is a dark smart comedy which sends up virtue signalling and satirises men professing feminism.

AR Hunter, Review Sphere, 22/02/2019

It may seem premature to say so just seven months after Ireland’s play premiered on the Edinburgh Fringe, but this revival (which keeps its fantastic original cast and creative team) reasserts Ulster American’s claim to classic status.

Mark Brown, Scottish Stage, 18/03/2019

Features about Ulster American

David Ireland and Gareth Nicholls--Ulster American

Neil Cooper, Coffee-Table Notes, 19/07/2018

Ulster American: Gareth Nicholls @ Traverse

Gareth K Vile, The Tempo House, 15/02/2019

Where and when?

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh from Wednesday February 20, 2019, until Saturday March 2, 2019. More info:

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