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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Review: Moll

Gaiety Theatre

Marty Morrissey (RTE) in dress rehearsal for his one off performance as Ulick in John B. Keane's comedy MOLL with Mary McEvoy & Clare Barrett at the Gaiety Theatre
Marty Morrissey (RTE) in dress rehearsal for his one off performance as Ulick in John B. Keane's comedy MOLL with Mary McEvoy & Clare Barrett at the Gaiety Theatre

A comical tale about three Irish priests and their bossy housekeeper?

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before. Incidentally, John B. Keane got there first - all the way back in 1971, in fact, long before TV comedy writer Graham Linehan and his buddy even dreamt of devising the Church of Ted.

Yes, we know, Frank Kelly, the man otherwise known as Father Jack, shows up in Moll as a Bishop, but hey, it's just a cameo role. We won't allow for director David Horan's production to inadvertently collapse with the in-jokes. Despite the fact that, erm, there's another Ted favourite in there too (Father Loran C.C. is, indeed, Patrick 'Eoin McLove' McDonnell). Seriously, though, we'll stop now.

What's most surprising for those of us whose knowledge of Keane stretches no further than The Field and Sive - both exceptional pieces, but hardly renowned for cracking ribs - is how thick and fast Moll lays on the funnies Many of which are a tad outdated, but still, they work.

Moll works, in fact, not just because of its simplicities, story-wise, but because of the fun its actors appear to have bringing this most straightforward yet enjoyable of Irish theatrical classics to life.

MONEY

When we first meet Canon Pratt (Des Keogh) and his curates, Father Brest (Damian Kearney) and Father Loran (McDonnell), they're interviewing women for the position of housekeeper at their parochial house.

Mary McEvoy shows up as drunken Bridgie Andover and gets us started, but we know the lads are going to go with Clare Barrett's Moll. Brest isn't so sure about her, but the Canon reckons she's either the best of a bad lot, or destined to spread joy in the home. By making meals and dusting shelves.

Moll, however, has bigger plans. She's going to introduce bingo to the parish. She'll starve the curates so they don't lose their focus and go running off with half-naked acrobats (don't ask). She will change everything, and Brest will hate her for it. What are her motives? Money. Money in her pocket, as soon as the Canon either dies or lets her go.

Brest's animated outbursts are they hilarious, Kearney hitting the back of the net with every childish rant.

Keogh is quite good as the mild-mannered Canon easily flattered by Moll's clever little speeches, and McDonnell's on hand to provide a few subtle yet effective one-liners.

Barrett's Moll is a hoot. Sure, Moll may be responsible for having that new school built in the parish, but good God, she's a demon woman to live with, and Barrett clearly has a blast. That enthusiasm is infectious. A grand old Irish play.

Running until Feb 14 HHHHI

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