Derek and Dave – In search of a Bench


Imagine that Jesus has made his triumphal entry into the city – except it’s not Jerusalem but Belfast. The whole city is in uproar and two crotchety old men, Derek and Dave are out for their usual walk through Botanic Gardens, but their favourite bench has moved. They go on an epic journey to find it, waxing lyrical about the state of the city and the shortcomings of young people these days!

That’s the premise for the Youth Drama which was performed by Play It By Ear – a Christian Drama company that seeks to help local churches use drama in worship. Chris Neilands and Ross Jonas are the multi-talented actors and writers behind tonight’s performance. With a cast of three actors’ all playing multiple roles the play fly’s through space and time with relentless energy. Quick costume changes are carried off by changing a Cap or a shirt and within minutes the 2 main protagonists had played grumpy pensioners, drunken students and even gossipy church ladies. There were many laugh out loud moments to please the audience of more than 100 packed into St Colmcille’s Church hall.

And it was drama with a message – “Play It By Ear,” are known for their ability to make the Bible accessible to a wide audience. In this play the skilful weaving in of characters from the gospel to modern day Belfast was seamless and even to those with little traditional teaching the characters came alive. Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, Judas and even Jesus himself all took a seat on the park bench at some point to interact with Derek or Dave. Like all good drama they were able to move from hilarity to deep silence and grief in a heartbeat. At one moment, we moved from laughter to finding out that the reason Derek is so angry with the world is because his wife died 5 years before and he is lonely. In the end the epic quest is successful and Derek and Dave find their park bench and we all learned a few life lessons along the way.

Although it was a youth event the audience had a great mix of ages, but like a good parable the play worked at different levels and was well received by all. Thanks to St Colmcille’s Church for hosting and providing refreshments afterwards. One Methodist was heard to remark on how wonderful the selection of food was but noted that there were no tray bakes and was told – “That would be an ecumenical matter!”