STRAIGHTFORWARD Theatre presented a play about a true story at Waterside Arts on Friday, October 13.

Edward and Eliza and the Smashing of the Van is written by Eileen Murphy and directed by Chris Honer, the former artistic director of the Library Theatre Company.

The story is set in 1867 but events leading up to it must be explained. Irish rebels, Kelly and Deasy, were in a police van when they were freed by a group of Irishmen who killed their guard, Sergeant Charles Brett.

After a wave of anti-Irish feeling, three of them were charged with the murder, tried and publicly hanged In Salford resulting in protest marches throughout Britain and Ireland.

Ironically, the murdered sergeant had an Irish sister-in-law, Eliza, who ran a shop in Macclesfield with her British husband, Edward,

Murphy’s fictional play looks into the relationship between these two after these events.

Actors Alison Darling and Dominic Gately put across the tensions well..

While Edward still grieves for his brother, customers shun them and they struggle to keep their business going.

Anti-Irish sentiment, an early form of racism, affects Eliza more than she will admit.

The tension takes its toll on their marriage. Yet you sense from the body language that these two still love one another.

That is where both actors come into their own - for you can feel the bond between them even when their relationship is under the greatest stress.

Alison gives an impressively emotional performance as events take their toll on their marriage and its effect on them both and their affection dissipates.

The direction of Chris Honer, former artistic director of the Library Theatre Company, is good reflecting accurately the prejudices of the time.

Star rating: * * *