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Coming from Northern Ireland, I found this play perhaps more relevant than one who doesn't understand the history aand the divide may. However, the themes that it deals with are universally relevant, such as war and its effects, sectarianism and ethnic divides, even homosexuality. The main character of the play is a Protestant Ulsterman called Pyper who we see at the beginning of the play as an old, decrepid man seemingly suffering from shell-shock or post-war insanity, after having survived the Somme, perhaps because of desertion. The story follows eight men in the same battalion at the Battle of the Somme, showing them when they first arrive as eager, Protestant soldiers (except for one, unbeknownst to the others), ready to battle for God and the Union. However, the second act shows them on leave, back home, disillusioned and broken men, dreading the return to the battlefield. This act looks at the relationships between the four pairings, each from different locales in Ulster, their previously held firm and narrow-minded beliefs now in doubt. The development of the characters and their relationshops is nothing short of genius on McGuinness's part, starting them all out as cock-sure young soldiers ready to take on the German threat, and by the end they are nervous wrecks, all the relationships having taken a drastic turn from the beginning. The power, intimacy and intensity of this play could almost be too much to bear for people, but it requires a huge amount from the actors to deliver its full effect on stage.