Review: Bomb Sex

4 star rating
Effortlessly blending comedy and tragedy, Fintan Shevlin's glimpse of lives during "the troubles" is packed with engaging characters and anecdotes ... and some affecting moments too.
Bomb Sex at the Hope Theatre

Image: Weeman Theatre

Theatre: Hope Theatre

Closes here: Monday 25 June 2018

Fintan Shevlin

Gerry McCrudden


Fintan Shevlin


One man. Eight voices.

It's the 1980s, 'the Troubles' in Northern Ireland are at their height.

But life goes on and some people just want to get some ...!

Weeman Theatre presents BOMB SEX, an explosive dark comedy examining the relationship between Ireland and England during 'the Troubles' told through those trapped in their own situations.

"Bang bang and it's all over!" ... "Ain't Thatcher beautiful?" ... ''Some women love a man in uniform...even if he is a terrorist''... "When sleeping with a soldier, it's not the clap you need to be worried about, it's the tarring and feathering" ..." But always make sure you come home and make love to your husband after the bingo".

BOMB SEX is an eclectic mix of English and Irish characters who cross the Protestant and Catholic divide, delving into the conflict and its political impact in the 1980s.

Intertwining dynamic story-telling with comedy and pathos, the play examines the fight for identity at a time when it was dangerous to be who you wanted to be.

Fresh from a sold out run at Brighton Fringe 2018, this hilarious and yet tragic piece of writing is penned and performed by Fintan Shevlin.


First generation northern Irish playwright and actor, Fintan Shevlin says:

"BOMB SEX examines the past and ongoing relationship between England and Northern Ireland, especially relevant in the light of the current Brexit border debate and the social struggle for same sex marriage and abortion rights.

As a child of the troubles, I was raised as a Roman Catholic in a close knit-community of conflicting religions and wanted to explore how the Irish see sex and the church's influence of what was and is socially acceptable.

BOMB SEX depicts the personal battles people are fighting, as well as the dangers they face externally."


ActDrop reviews

Peter Brown

Performance date: Sunday 24 June 2018
Review star rating image

The Sunday and Monday slots at Islington's Hope Theatre provide a great opportunity for theatre companies to try out something new or experiment with something more well-known without the budgetary and time commitments that a longer run might involve.

But don't think that the shows, which play in between the main production at the venue, are in some way inferior, less virtuous or lacking in painstaking effort.

Quite the contrary, they complement and enrich the venue's entire programme and are often surprisingly inventive, challenging and varied.

This monologue, written and performed by Fintan Shevlin, is one such production - packed full of interesting characters, amusing anecdotes, some comedic video of a Prime Minister and her adversary ... and some very moving moments too.

The title is more intelligently chosen than you might think.

I don't hear the term 'sex bomb' so much these days, if at all.

But I can remember a time when it was frequently used to describe a very sexual or attractive person - usually a woman.

The title here is a reversal and play on words of the phrase "sex bomb" and it's a neat way of putting the emphasis on bombs and harking back to an agonisingly long period of time that was both terrifying and heartbreaking for many.

That period of "the troubles' in Northern Ireland began in the late 1960s and was only terminated with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

With 20 years having elapsed since the troubles ended, it seems appropriate to take a look back on those times, not from the point of view of the main protagonists in the conflict, but ordinary people who lived through it.

Coming down the stairs at the end of the show, I heard one man describe Mr Shevlin's performance as "fantastic".

Certainly the entire audience were attentive and appreciative throughout and justly so because the actor delivers a series of absorbing, well-described characters ranging from nuns giving spurious, ill-informed classes on "love making" to a teenage boy just interested in acquiring the latest Duran Duran album.

Bomb Sex is a melange of characters, and we see glimpses of their lives and hear about their hopes and fears along with the more brutal reality of the times.

Sex does figure quite prominently in Mr Shevlin's well-written piece, often in comedic ways and sometimes in the aftermath of bingo sessions.

Though comedy probably gets the larger share of the brief stage time here, we do find more poignant moments, particularly in a tragically heart wrenching ending.

But, along the way, we find women being tarred and feathered for associating with British soldiers, and a farmer bravely standing up to the paramilitaries.

Running just shy of an hour, the play could actually be stretched a little by maybe another 10 or 15 minutes or so, because the audience certainly seemed captivated and some scenes are fairly short.

And though Fintan Shevlin negotiates both the comedic and more tragic elements with commendable and effective skill, he's at his formidable best when his characters are angry or are expressing more intense and non-comedic emotions.

Those moments seemed too rare in an otherwise captivating depiction of characters living through and coping with hellishly troubled times.

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