In the Name of the Son - The Gerry Conlon Story

Q Theatre, 305 Queen St, Auckland

14/03/2024 - 17/03/2024

Auckland Arts Festival | Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki 2024

Production Details

Written by Richard O'Rawe & Martin Lynch
Director Tony Devlin

Green Shoot Productions

This incredible true story chronicles the aftermath of Gerry Conlon’s release from prison, where he spent 14 years as one of the Guildford Four – a group wrongly convicted of a bombing by the IRA during one of the deadliest periods of the Irish Troubles. With his ordeal transformed into a celebrated film (In the Name of the Father), Conlon enjoyed instant fame and fortune, though his freedom was just as quickly stifled by addiction.

Shaun Blaney portrays Conlon’s life as it spirals out of control with gripping authenticity. Don’t miss this deeply affecting one man play that’s drawn standing ovations all over the UK.

“Nothing short of sublime.” – Belfast Live

“A tour-de-force.” – Irish News

Best Actor nomination, Irish Times Theatre Awards

Audio Described Performance (Intro notes only)

Fri 15 March 7.30pm; Sat 16 March, 2.00pm & 7.30pm; Sun 17, 4.00pm
Post-show Artist Talk: Saturday 16 March 3:30PM
After Saturday’s matinee performance, there will be a discussion with Tony Devlin (director) and Shaun Blaney (performer).

This show is a part of Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival 2024.

Performed by Shaun Blaney
Lighting: James C. McFetridge
Sound design: Garth McConaghie

Presented by:
Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki Auckland Arts Festival

Theatre , Solo ,


Unravels Conlon's imprisonment and the nature of the troubles in Northern Ireland

Review by Genevieve McClean 17th Mar 2024

Shaun Blaney rules the stage in The Name of the Son, The Gerry Conlon Story.  By the way, there’s likely to be a bit more to the story than you even thought you knew in this telling. It’s a show that unravels the aftermath of the man’s imprisonment in a way that hits the big notes of the nature of the troubles in Northern Ireland and the clashing messy clumsy and dangerous interface with British policing and law. It also hits the little notes: Shaun Blaney carries the human flaws and foibles of these characters with precision and a generous gracious humility. Blaney is a truly great actor. The existing reviews of this show already repeat some grand phrases, that of it being a Tour de force, – you better believe it! For the entire show, I was mesmerized, I’ll tell you why.

The director Tony Devlin answers to his own ambition to explore the psychological nuances of the struggle of a man adapting to his augmented life after imprisonment. The resultant performance is impressive in the psychological detail and the show is illuminated with opportunistic and very real humour like all things Irish. I, too, had to wipe my eyes as those little story notes opened out into some of the more resonant chords we all recognize, and those that rang emphatically with the greater disharmony of social injustice, – but I am still also a little mirthsome the next day with the delight in some of these clever caricatures and moments as they were rendered. 

This is a solo show, just one person on the stage without props, a simple a pared back set, and himself in the space delineated by a lighting state that, like everything else, is deceptively minimalist. This performer doesn’t leave the performance space or turn his back on you or drop the momentum except for a small collection of micro-gestures of brief asides when he checks in with the audience, presumably to make sure they’ve not stopped breathing or are not suffering alongside Gerry’s condensed life experiences in any way, because it is relentless. Using the body, and simple but effective technique, the show unfolds like a movie, with the scene changes, character, background, the mise en scene, the mayhem. Explosions in the North to solitary in London. The crowding press. Love and fortune. Fame and friendships. Politicians, and making movies. Conlon did indeed live his seven ages. His extraordinary life epitomizing the nightmares and dreams stemming from the troubles all rendered fully in the minds of the audience, replete with dream sequence, – ‘montage! scene changes!’ from go to woe, and as it happens from woe to go also.  It’s done subtly, and no single attribute clamours for more attention than is required to uphold the theatrical dynamic.

The production team have a tightly built vessel with this show, – I had to google Shaun Blaney on the way out of the theatre to get a sense of what he looked like, – it didn’t help so much, as he looks different in any picture you might find, – but on stage this element was held to extraordinary effect, – the brilliantly calibrated lighting states, (James C. McFetridge) in hand with the disarming and exacting sound design (Garth McConaghie) and an exceptional performance delivered the illusion of there actually being different faces on stage. Blaney hits the marks emotionally just as efficiently and leans into especially good direction and a beautifully crafted script that has its origins in Richard O’Rawe’s book by the same name. Both writers (O’Rawe & Martin Lynch), have colluded to bring the story of Gerry Conlon to the fore as a play with an obvious pride in the lineage of the storytelling that stems directly from the character of Conlon. Both writers had connections with Conlon at different times of his life, and it’s clear to assess that this play has gestated as a labour of love and pride that draws on the man Conlon and his entire surround.  With such a momentum as this, a team that carries the story each night from 1971 to the stage currently at Q theatre in Auckland New Zealand until the 17th of March has to be powered by such a lineage and evidently, they are. So, hello Ireland! And thank you Green Shoot productions for a very good night in the theatre. It’s an educational and a cathartic one. People of Auckland, – you can access the digital show programme on the Q Theatre page, and you can access tickets there also. You’ll be glad you did.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council