Forget Turkey (we liked it so much we’re going to Phucket again)
Lyric Theatre Belfast,
Until January 12, 2014
A grocery store closing down, Gerry Adams’ memory loss, MLAs’ expenses, a fish and horse at the dole office, beautifully screened and hilarious background interludes, the Leverson Inquiry, tunes to shake your money-maker at, and shopping trollies being whipped all over the stage… interested? Thought so. You know you wanna see this play!
Director Dan Gordon has writers Colin Murphy, Gary Mitchell and Gordon himself serving up what is part panto, part slap-stick, a ton of NI political satire, the trembling of Daliesque harpooned sugar-spooned delight and a Scrooge’s economy’s feeding peoples’ need for new horizons comes screaming to life. This play has everything, from the Blues Brothers’ intro to a Pogues-inspired, fantastically ending distorted completion, this play has most of what your twisted mind desires.
The cast of actors scoot and hoot from scene to scene with a mirth that deserves this merry month. Together with composer/musical director, Garth McConaghie, choreographer Deborah Maguire and a talented team of lighting, set and wardrobe designers, have three hundred bums sitting on the edge of their seats in an almost near full Lyric. Not bad for an opening night.
The plot, thinly veiled, almost reticent, follows the closure of Foodsides – pun surely intended – a family owned business of over 70 years and the strategies of the four main players on how to move on from enforced redundancies… the golden thread is at times forgotten and a well versed cast and the coven of writers remind us we’re actually watching the Grinch finally getting his wicked way on December 24.
Or are we?
Subplots a plenty: apple juice spilt on aisle five, the A5; flow of waters breaking, contractions, once, twice, thrice…. Polish born, quite camp, no, forget that, a row of tents, Arthur the trolley-pusher – no euphemism intended – once worked at the A&E at the City Hospital has been subjugated by management to deliver the children to the deathly world they’re bound to leave. Playing Arthur is Carrick’s Chris Robinson, friend and bastion of the Lyric’s productions as well as a CV to make one’s eyes bleed through the program with film and TV credits under his belt. Robinson makes this role feel like a dander through the park, just like his roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to Breakfast on Pluto.
Jo Donelley, RADA trained and having played this role before, from The Chronicles of Long Kesh to A Clockwork Orange, Cooking with Elvis and multiple other roles brings Bridie the Cleaner to jumping hilarity. Belfast accent, idiolect and idiom is her forte, if you’re interested in clean unstoppable force of comedy, timing and believable acting, she’s the girl to track.
But, and a big but with butter on top is the Smoker… driving about in his mobility scooter, interjecting every now and a again with a touch of racism, homophobia and all the usual Norn Iron traits we’ve all grown up with, Michael Condron, playing the role for the second time with too many manys to mention has played roles in NI theatre, TV and a splash of film just to excite the CV – Keith Lemon the Movie, no less – brings about a thrusting force to the self-serving eel to the wheel.
Lastly, but not least, Maria Connolly, another veteran of this play, is a total splash: with three waters breaking, pushing the trolley round the store and with a squeal to meet every occasion.
The sound track and singing saves this show. Unless you’re aware of every politician to have ever tramped the marble of Stormont, you’ll have trouble following this play. I wouldn’t want to bring a foreigner to see Phucket, but anyone in the know will appreciate this show.
3 out of 5 Nerds