Forget Turkey! (We’re Going to Phuket This Christmas)
Lyric Theatre, BelfastBelfast audiences love to laugh at the best of times, and even more so when political tensions are running high. So this comedy review of the year is more than half-way there before the curtain goes up.
Written by comic stalwarts Dan Gordon and Colin Murphy, together with playwright Gary Mitchell, Forget Turkey! is a collection of loosely-interconnected skits, some of which work more successfully than others.
There are the expected swipes against bankers, trolley waits and Jimmy Savile, as well as the inevitable appearance of Ulster’s proudest export, Tayto crisps. But it is the political gags that are the most consistently funny. An irreverent song about the Northern Irish Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland, who is also a fervent Young Earth creationist, styles him as “the weirdie beardie from the DUP”. And a Sinn Féin minister in drag – complete with tweed twinset, hairy legs and beard – speaks about the importance of reclaiming negative language, forcing a pair of leather-jacketed republican heavies to chant the phrase “I’m a Fenian B”. Later, the audience is asked to do the same, prompting the quip: “That was very difficult for some, surprisingly easy for others.”
Some sketches have a harder edge. A spoof advert for a clinic offering terminations urges women to try their services, which include pedicures, facials and fruit smoothies – everything required for a “girlie” day out. “I got pregnant just to get a chance to go,” cooed one happy customer.
Less impressive are the clunky “serious” sections, where one of the four-person cast provides the statistical lowdown on race attacks, or debt, or disability, before reverting back to comic mode. This self-conscious worthiness feels grating and out of place.
But there are moments of real poignancy, too, such as the singalong ballad The Troubles are Over in Ulster, performed against the backdrop of Alliance party offices burnt out in the recent loyalist riots. Sometimes laughing isn’t so far away from crying, especially in Northern Ireland.
Until December 22nd