Marie Jones play is brought back to life

Acclaimed Northern Irish actor Matthew Forsythe will be stepping back onto the Belfast stage this month when he revives the role of Kenneth McCalister in Marie Jones’ beloved play ‘A Night in November’.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 3:50 pm

First written for actor Dan Gordon, this is a revival of the 25th anniversary production in 2019, when Matthew first took on the main role as the troubled Kenneth, who is struggling to find his own identity.

The latest production by Soda Bread Theatre Company, presented in association with the MAC, follows the ups and downs of Kenneth McAllister, a clerk in the local welfare office, and a Belfast Protestant who has followed all the rules. He loved who he was supposed to love. He lived where he was expected to live. He fought who he was taught to fight. Until one night -- a night in November -- he did the most exciting, outrageous, crazy, mad thing he’d ever done.

Rather than growing up with childhood dreams of life on the stage, Matthew worked, and actually still does work, in the building trade as a joiner. It was only when he was 28, after performing with local musical societies, that he decided to take the plunge and go to drama school. And in a strange coincidence, the first play he ever saw before he left for drama school, was a production of A Night in November starring Patrick Kielty.

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“This is my first play back on stage again with live audiences,” explained Matthew. “There are a lot of mixed emotions being back on stage but I think people are realising how important theatre is.

“Even though the play is set in 1994, it is still very relevant today. It is one man’s journey of self discovery. He was brought up on one side of the community and has always had an idea of what the other side are but he never investigated it until one night he takes his father-in-law to a football match and sees the real hatred on display. From that moment on he starts to question his past, without really wanting to question it. It changes his life forever.”

In yet another coincidence, Matthew was actually at the Northern Ireland vs Republic of Ireland match in 1993, which is the central event in the play.

‘A Night in November’ is a rollercoaster of emotions, both for Matthew and for the audience, but it comes with a generous dose of Northern Irish humour as well. “There’s a lot of humour in there,” continued Matthew. “It is up and down all the way through and you really feel for Kenneth.

“I am really looking fowrward to bringing it to The Mac, I think it is going to be something special.”

A Night in November runs at the Mac in Belfast from November 11-28 and tickets are on sale from