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THEATRE REVIEW: FTN reviews The Sweety Bottle at The Grand Opera House, Belfast

August 6th, 2013 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

The Sweety Bottle
The Grand Opera House, Belfast

Following a completely sold-out run of performances earlier in the year, Joe and Gerard Brennan’s critically-acclaimed comedy The Sweety Bottle returns to the Grand Opera House Belfast from Monday 5 – Saturday 10 August 2013.

Belfast in the 1970s. At the rear of Brennan’s sweet shop, a popular ‘shebeen’ is in full swing. This secret drinking den is a place where punters come to escape the troubles around them and to exorcise their own personal demons.

Through the many huge characters and calamitous incidents, we embark on a voyage to an era where the city and its people never ceased to find humour in even the darkest of times.

A hilariously nostalgic trip down memory lane, director Tony Devlin’s The Sweety Bottle is sure to have you crying with laughter as we remember everything that was good about Belfast during the rare auld times.

The Sweety Bottle, is based on a drinking den of the same name that operated in the 1970s and the play has been inspired by the characters and stories that frequented this “wee place of ours”. The play stars Marty Maguire as owner JB, who runs a secret drinking den above his sweety shop in Belfast and where he sells his famous Wall-Climber liquor.

His main patrons are an elderly Manolito, played by Lalor Roddy, who tries his hardest to pass himself of as Spanish due to his fondness of Manolito from televisions High Chaparral; John, played by Ciaran Nolan, an out of work Jack the Whack who is obsessed with winning the jackpot in the fruit machine; Sam, played by Gerard Jordan, a young married man who basically comes for a wee jar to escape his troubles. Rounding off this motley crew is Fr. Peyton, played by Gordon Fulton, who is basically the local wind-up merchant.

The Sweety Bottle is the perfect setting for a small group to while away the hours having a few drinks and telling each other their own wee troubles and stories. The script is incredibly funny and touching at times, and the viewer can easily tell that there is indeed some truth to what each of the patrons say or do.

This is a local production which has been scaled up from the small and intimate Baby Grand Theatre to the larger Main Stage at the Grand Opera House, yet it has not lost any of its charm, wit or sentimentality.

The ensemble cast do a perfect rendition and performance of colourful characters that the audience most certainly could relate to and so perfect is the casting that it is impossible to single out any performance as they are all superb.

The set, whilst small, is perfectly detailed and doesn’t change throughout the play. The clever use of small props, bottles and even the “Wall-Climber” maintains a certain character of its own. However, it is the skillful use by the artists on the stage that bring these to life.

The Sweety Bottle is without doubt the funniest thing I have seen on the stage in a long time, and it’s safe to say that every audience member enjoyed it immensely. For a great night out, you will find it hard to beat, in fact you may need to bring a bandage as your sides will be splitting from laughter!

4 out of 5 Nerds




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I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.