IT looks like the end of the world in Seamus Keenan's blistering new play, which Derry Playhouse brought to the Tron's Mayfesto season last week.

Either that or some latter-day social experiment for reality TV or a venue for extreme sports. In fact, the barbed-wire topped cage that confines five men in what looks like a burnt-out scrapyard is a dead ringer for Long Kesh in 1974 after the County Down-based prison's IRA prisoners torched it during riots.

The five men now appear to occupy some approximation of a Beckettian wasteland, in which they attempt to keep up a notion of army discipline, even as they survive on scraps while sleeping in the most makeshift of shelters. Three of them, Barry, Colin and pretty-boy Dutch are volunteers. Dee is notional leader, with Lucas his brutal number two. Beyond the macho banter and dedication to the cause, the claustrophobic living conditions create an uneasy tension that turns to suspicion, paranoia and violence.

Making an overdue return to his theatrical roots after a successful career making gritty TV and film, director Kenny Glenaan captures the full light and shade messiness of the situation the men find themselves in. Scenes are short, sharp and sometimes shocking, with Keenan's script illustrating the pains of confinement with a gimlet-eyed lack of sentimentality devastatingly portrayed by a fine ensemble cast.

Seen up close in the Tron's tiny Changing House space, such relentless intensity also captures the ideological civil war of the period in all it's merciless brutality. If you treat men like animals, it suggests, that's how they'll behave when they fight back.

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