Pass Productions



  • Why did you choose to see this production?
  • Have you forbears who fought in the First World War?
  • What do you know about their war service?
  • Did you learn anything you did not know already about the First World War from this production?
  • Did this performance affect your perceptions about the contribution of Ulster Loyalism/ Unionism to the sacrifice of the First World War in any way?
  • Did this performance affect your perceptions about the contribution of Irish Nationalists to the sacrifice of the FWW in any way?


As I told you I am transcribing my grandads diary from that war and I too have been tracing his steps in maps etc from home to the trenches. You have caught the care and tenderness for each other and also how God became real in the horror they lived in. The way u had the play in surround and the depiction of the trenches was superb and using real photos. Plus seeing my son acting was almost like seeing Grandad in the horrors he saw but did not really speak. It was …..a superb and moving play. Well done to all.

Katie McCormack - May 14, 2014 at 7:32 am

I’m 14 and I had just finished studying world war one in school and watching this amazing play has really brought it to life for me and I would just like to thank everyone in the play for doing so and to everyone who was part of the play well done.

Darren Mullen - May 15,2014 at 8:26 am


I have few, if any, family connections with WW1 and my engagement with the subject has rarely moved beyond the technicalities of reading key texts from the war poets. As such the experience of this production was thought-provoking. The use of the space, images and sounds, the beautiful singing and carefully crafted dialogue all lead to a sense of being drawn in to the lives of the four young boys as they headed to war. Their personal and private conflicts around the nature of war as well as the tensions that they experienced living in Belfast – and all that that entailed – were so sensitively handled in the production that by the end of the two hours you felt a genuine sense of loss. I have learnt a huge amount from this production – not least that we have some exceptional academics and students at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Claire Dewhirst - May 16, 2014 at 8:26 am

What an amazing production. I brought some of my students to see this play because they had been studying ww1. They were mesmerised by the authenticity of the characters, the feeling that they were allowed to eavesdrop on these young men’s conversations and the inevitability of their fates,portrayed so chillingly by doxy. It is an excellent play for any young person who is currently studying war poetry or ww1 history or indeed drama. The conceits, motifs, stage craft combined to make an exceptional performance. Well done to everyone involved. I am going again tonight and I can’t wait.

Michele Godfrey - May 17, 2014 at 11:24 am

Wonderful play,wonderful cast.thank you for bring my family research to life..she’d a tear or wonderful cousin Brenda..thank you..Will is up above looking down with pride.

Deirdre Brennan - May 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

I watched the play on Friday 16th May with my mother Florence Kerr and my wife Luci Kerr – we were each engrossed by the history and personal stories of my Great Uncle Willie and his friends. Their experiences and emotions were superbly conveyed by a cast of excellent actors both students and professionals. The trench set provided an immersive experience and the excellent sound and music added depth and emotion. The play pays a respectful tribute to the sacrifice and endurance of brave Belfast boys and should be regarded as a valuable contribution to the centennial commemoration.

Jim Kerr - May 17, 2014 at 5:35 pm

A triumph. A wonderfully evocative play that presents a deeply personal view of the Great War. The audience finds itself right in the middle of the action – sometimes uncomfortably so. We travel with the young men from the streets of Belfast to the theatre of war in France. We join them, choking on smoke, in the horror of the trenches. We suffer the anxiety, fear and heartbreak of their womenfolk left behind to carry on the business of everyday life. It’s an emotional journey, from rich, earthy Belfast humour to the raw terror of very young men facing an unimaginable fate. It was a privilege to join the family of Willie Kerr as they followed his journey. 

A triumph. A wonderfully evocative play that presents a deeply personal view of the Great War. The audience finds itself right in the middle of the action – sometimes uncomfortably so. We travel with the young men from the streets of Belfast to the theatre of war in France. We join them, choking on smoke, in the horror of the trenches. We suffer the anxiety, fear and heartbreak of their womenfolk left behind to carry on the business of everyday life. It’s an emotional journey, from rich, earthy Belfast humour to the raw terror of very young men facing an unimaginable fate. It was a privilege to join the family of Willie Kerr as they followed his journey. 

Cecilia - May 17, 2014 at 11:49 pm

This is a wonderful play that very skilfully addresses the differing views of unionists and nationalists in the lead up to the Great War. It was fascinating to see the politics of the people brought to life and understand more clearly the background against which my own nationalist great grandfather joined the British Army. The production was most effective in the way it brought the audience into the story. It would be great to see the play as a site specific piece in different parts of Ireland, North and South, over the coming years. We’ll done to Brenda and the crew.

Andrew - May 18, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Outstanding achievement. Congratulations to Brenda, the cast and all those involved in Friday night’s performance. Medal In The Drawer is an enthralling and thought provoking play that respectively allows us a glimpse into the vey souls of the men and women of Belfast who suffered lost loved ones and of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War. Brenda with great sensitivity and creativity draws back the curtain on a window into our past that has long been tightly closed for many on us on this island. This play gives us permission to no longer whisper the names of long forgotten relatives rather we can now remember them with pride in our hearts and homes. As a teacher the staging of this play in the Brian Friel Theatre in Queens has given me a new perspective on this period of history.

Deirdre Brennan - May 18, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Wonderful piece of theatre Brenda, it brought to life the ghosts of my two uncles Sgt’ James Conlon who died two weeks after returning home in 1918 of gas poisoning in France with the C/rangers and his brother Owen who was killed in August 1915 in Galipoli with the RIR. Owen’s ‘Death Penny’ has been the only reminder for our family of a 19 yr old who went to war, sadly there is no grave to visit.
Your play has rectified the act of remembrance for people from a nationalist background and evenly balanced, you have succeed in highlighting that we all have a shared history that needs to be explored, congratulations to you, your cast and production team for an excellent play.

Cathal Donaghy '6th Connaught Rangers Project Group' - May 18, 2014 at 10:12 pm

I watched this play twice and both times I have been given a greater understanding and insight into the lives of the boys who fought in the war. It was also a fascinating insight into protestant and catholic history for someone not from Northern Ireland. It was a very dramatic and excellent performance by all of the cast who brought the characters to life. I will take back with me a greater understanding and feeling of empathy for the Northern Irish heros.

Sue Coleman - May 18, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Medal in the Drawer, was both a superbly written play and also superbly acted. As a first year drama student at Queens I was keen to seen the second year project, but was no way prepared for what I saw. The acting and the story of the play moved me emotionally, with much of the material hitting home to myself. I have a strong interest in history and have had family serve in the army from the First world through to Afghanistan. Brenda’s story of William Kerr was very similar to my own Great Great Grandfather, a 16 year old catholic from Dublin, who lied about his age and ran away from to join the army. He too fought in France and returned wounded and shell shocked from his time in the war.

The play truly was outstanding with everyone delivering their full potential to give us a believable and tragic story very close to home. I personally found the trench scene, and the death letters scene extremely powerful.

A fantastic play which cannot be missed and would happily go and see again.

Jack Boyle - May 18, 2014 at 11:18 pm

Having visited the grave near Tiepeval of a great uncle who was killed in the First World War, I had long thought about the dreadful loss of life. But this play not only covered the tragic loss but also unpacked the link with the independence movement and also the rise of women in public life. It was bold in scope and carried the audience along all the way. Not being Irish I found it very informative as well as moving and hope it is performed widely.

Gill - May 19, 2014 at 9:53 am

As this was my first experience of a student play I can honestly say I was not expecting such a professional production with such fantastic acting. From start to finish I was captivated by each of the characters as I watched their stories unfold. An emotional and thought provoking production, which had me close to tears more than once, brought home the sheer horrors that thousands of young men suffered during combat. On the basis of this experience I would definitely go to see another student play and only hope it comes close to Medal in the Drawer.

Jacqueline Cullen - May 19, 2014 at 10:39 am

The Medal in the Drawer is superb! I was impressed from start to finish by its pace, feeling for the period, depth of knowledge and balance of writing and directing with the cast doing it proud. It would be easy today to see some of the views and how they were expressed back then as crass but they were genuinely held and Brenda gets that across beautifully. The review in the Irish News this morning is on the mark with its praise. The play is always entertaining, being both very funny and sad, and always thought provoking. I have stood at Tom Martin’s grave in France and knew the stories of some of the names mentioned and The Medal in the Drawer brought them to life for me. This might sound crass in any era, but I think if Tom and Willie could genuinely visit from the grave, as they do in the play, they would be proud of how Brenda has portrayed them.

Steven Moor - May 19, 2014 at 2:01 pm

For me the play revealed new insights about the role and motivations of both Irish Catholics and Protestants in the First World War. I liked especially the united-in-death aesthetic. Also I liked that while the approach was inspired by a personal connection, it didn’t lose sight of the wider, more universal themes e.g. the death, destruction and loss and the questionability of war in general.

Drobb2012 - May 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm

As a first yeat drama student and having previously studied with Brenda I had very high expectations for this production. My expectations were exceeded. This was not only a fantastic play, the acting, direction, set and staging were all extermely effective elements which added to the overall experience. I enjoyed this production throughly and would recommend it. I am looking forward to working with Brenda next year and seeing what other inventive ideas she has in store.

Niamh Connor - May 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I found The Medal in the Drawer to be both a moving and educational experience which brought to light the seemingly forgotten sacrifices made by many of Belfast’s men and women in the days of the First World War. The complexities and divisions which both haunt and obscure the ways in which sections of this city still remember their ancestors’ involvement in the conflict were deftly divulged, as the play took its audience from the prewar schoolyards to postwar graveyards. Eschewing the traditional box set, the play instead places its audience amidst the action. Forcing my focus to sporadically shift location, I wondered if this device was perhaps designed to mirror a sense of confusion and disorientation felt by those whose stories the play re-imagines. I thought the trench scene was particularly effective – the enforced proximity between actors and audience instilling the performances with an unavoidable and unforgettable power. The acting was excellent throughout – the cast encompassing a mixture of fresh-faced students and more experienced actors, which serves as a reminder of how the experiences of the First World War, in truth, still resonate through the generations.

Joseph Greenwood - May 22, 2014 at 7:32 pm

A excellent production which pays a great tribute to the centenary of World War I. It illustrates the connection to the city so effectively and captures the time period perfectly. The setting was very intimate, with a small audience and such a great use of the space – I was captivated. Bringing the audience into the trenches was very moving. The music transpired throughout the performance and really added to the emotion. Great credit to Brenda for the fantastic script and directing such a personal, emotive performance. It was portrayed by the students and actors unbelievably well, you can clearly see how so much hard work, dedication, rehearsal and practice transpires into an unforgettable performance.

Michael Lynch - May 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Upon hearing about this production I was very excited to see a real life story from this era told through theater. However I must admit I was a novice in the subject regarding the war,and I can’t believe how much I thoroughly enjoyed the piece while also learning so much about the time it was set in. I could tell a lot of hard work went into this piece and it really paid off. Anyone who was involved with the performance, Congratulations! It was honestly one of the most interesting and thought provoking theater I have seen. I am really intrigued to learn more about Catholics who went to war, and even discover whether I have any relations who perhaps fought in it. The set was fantastic and the idea of the trench was brilliant. I expected a high standard of performance to be delivered from the show but I was not prepared for how brilliant the whole concept, script, acting and portrayal of the story was going to be. Well done again!

Claire Rose - May 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I have enjoyed so much attending The Medal in the Drawer, it was beautifully done from setting, costumes, script. Even though the subject was tough, vividly depicted through strong and talented acting, I followed it through every minute. I have learned a lot about the sacrifice of this part of the world in the World War one. It made me think of my own grandfather and great grandfather and all what they must have gone through. I loved the script, it is so well written! Above all I am immensely proud that our Junior Academy of Music (JAM) children took part in it! They have added the extra spark to the opening scene, and had fun learning skipping songs. I look forward to future collaborations between JAM and Drama.

Juliana Licinic van Walstijn, Junior Academy of Music co-ordinator, School of Creative Arts, QUB - May 27, 2014 at 9:23 am