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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 17:15 GMT 18:15 UK
Pin-up firemen cause offence
The actors bare their chests only
The Opera House says the actors bare their chests only
A play about a group of firemen competing to become sex symbols has caused controversy in Northern Ireland.

The comedy Naked Flame is set in a fire station and tells the tale of a gang of men hopeful of becoming pin-up models for a calender.

It opened at the Opera House in Belfast on Monday night.

The play will run for six nights.

Demonstration

But the play was seen as offensive by some members of the Free Presbyterian Church.

Around 30 people staged a protest outside the venue on the opening night.

They sang songs and carried placards.

Rev Alan Smylie, who had organised the demonstration, said the content of the play was immoral.
Rev Alan Smylie
Rev Alan Smylie: the play is immoral

"The very fact that it is adults only indicates what the content is.

"We're here standing for standards that have been forsaken, moral standards in society, decency.

"We feel that those who produce these type of productions have a responsibility to the general public.

Rev Smylie said that even though he had not seen the play, he was still in a position to judge.

"I don't think you have to drink poison to know it's poison."

Needless fuss

Director of the opera house Derek Nicholls said the play was merely harmless comedy.

"Everybody is entitled to their opinion, so if the protestors have a particular view that's fine.
The protestors sang songs outside the Opera House
The protestors sang songs outside the Opera House

"But equally the freedom of the people who've come to see the play should be respected.

He said there was no indecency on stage.

"We see torsos, but absolutely no nudity.

"I think you get the same picture if you go to the swimming baths every day really, so I don't understand the problem."

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