A hard-hitting play on the dangers of legal highs has been staged for an audience of 150 local young people, parents and community leaders.
Popping Candy debuted to a Larne audience at the McNeill Theatre on Monday of this week.
The production is part of a public awareness campaign by Larne Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) and the PSNI targeting substance abuse. It focuses on young people and adults, aiming to educate audiences on the dangers of substance abuse, particularly so-called legal highs.
Larne PCSP chair, Cllr Michael Lynch, who attended the play, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for Larne PCSP to fund a project in partnership with statutory bodies to help reduce crime, the fear of crime and generally improve the quality of life for local residents.”
Larne PSNI commander, Chief Insp Stephen McCauley added: “Drugs remain a real issue of concern to local communities. Police understand that and are keeping people safe by enforcing the law.
“There is an important education piece around the issue of drug misuse. It is important for police to work in partnership with communities, particularly young people when it comes to drug misuse. That’s why I’m totally behind the Popping Candy production and associated campaign and wider work of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership.
“The key message from police is that drugs, including so-called legal highs, can cause harm to individuals and communities.”
Speaking on the day after the play was staged, Preventing Addiction Larne (PAL) secretary Beverly White said: “We thought last night was excellent. The play was very hard-hitting, but showed the reality of legal highs. It’s a great way of getting the message out there to our young people.”
Artistic director of the Spanner in the Works Theatre Company, Patricia Downey, said local audience reaction had been extremely positive.
She told the Times: “The audience loved it, there were a lot of people involved in trying to stamp out legal highs in the Larne area.
“It was great seeing people with the same passion I have and getting this message out.
“The play has been written so that both parents and young people will learn from it. It gives them the real experience without the danger.
“It is better to engage with them than lecture them and it gives youth groups a good basis to start talking.”