Belfast’s MAC Theatre
Until June 14th
For booking etc go here
Wanna meet One Eyed Billie, a snooker-ball in a sock, Gambian lovers, gusset sniffing, “I was just making sure the fabric softener was working”, porn movies called Inspect Her Gadget, missing toes, abattoir humour and too many filthy cracking similes to mention… well you put your bum in the right place if you were in the packed out MAC tonight.
Award winning writer, Brenda Murphy, has done it once more. Teaming up again with director Martin Lynch and his GBL production company, the goods run free, and side-splitting-joy more often than not. There’s barely thirty seconds without a laugh, and in more tender moments, ‘Ahs’ from the crowd and fountains of sympathy and empathy from who has ever had their heart broken too much, too often.
The set is a claustrophobic yet a cleverly constructed field for the action that goes on for a brilliant showing of great writing, superb direction and NI’s cream of the crop actors playing disturbingly realistic characters. Three is the magic number, but with Murphy’s inexhaustible mind, three, four, five and a dozen others. You just know she’s nicking nicknames from people ’round her way.
The show opens with an almost sumptuous, yet sparse, room reminiscent of a trendy apartment touched by Quentin Crisp’s elegant hand. Back centre is a four foot by three foot portrait of Patsy Cline. There’s a sofa, maroon of course, table, kitchen off to the audience’s left, bedrooms to the right; all tight knit in this little rabbit warren of three tumbling characters.
Ruby, the central character, is played beautifully by Caroline Curran – Fifty Shades of Red, White and Blue, Edinburgh Fringe lark and Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History fame – adds anchor to the many sub-plots lovingly riddling this play. Her solace is that of the music of Patsy. Her wide-boy cousin, Eddie, behind in rent, behind the times and apparently behind in the knowledge of hygiene is a great ambush to any sentimentality presented. Marty Maguire devours this role. Not only reminding you of your favourite outspoken uncle, but a complete dreamer scheming at every chance. You may know him from The Chronicles, BBC’s Number Twos or Vikings. Last and eternally certainly not least is an actor new to my eye, Ciaran Nolan. Nolan, veteran of The Sweetie Bottle, The Christening and Titanic Boys, moves from a love-struck-OCD-puppy to a helmet-wearing posh perv on a teaspoon, such is his natural talent. Fancy a naked sight-seeing trip on a Honda 50cc, posh perv is your man.
The plot is simple: we’re not given Ruby’s age but she’s mid to late twenties and in love with a Peter Andre Gambian shark. Things don’t go her way. To cheer Ruby up plans are made for the cardiac arrested and sorely tested woman at the heart of this drama. Ruby’s destination is unknown. Internet dating is suggested by Eddie, who appreciates a good wine of older women and dogging-spots. American Bob, BMW owning businessman, again suggested by Eddie, or the love struck Gary. Then there’s the grand old country of Oz. No clicking of heels, this is Australia, a final resolve, hope beyond hope.
But what is probably the cleverest idea of this play is the only other female character. Patsy. They all talk to her. Eddie asks if she ‘Likes sex outside?’ Ruby spills her heart while swigging vodka, Gary tells of his woes, as if they suppose Patsy will know. With this Murphy gives the audience both vital unknown knowledge of all the main characters, and gorgeously provides a brilliant score triumphantly urging the audience to be clapping their hands and standing on their feet.
The climax is superb. Brilliantly acted, written, directed and produced. If you do one thing before June 15, go have a laugh.
5 out of 5 Nerds