From grave to cradle

This Belfast-centric performance does exactly what it says on the tin

Weddins, Weeins and Wakes
Lyric Theatre, Belfast
***

Mona and Molly are two salt-of-the-earth Belfast women, one the street body washer, the other the street midwife.

Played with a knowingly sure touch by Katie Tumelty and Marie Jones (the musical's author) respectively, their daily routine begins with a scan of the hatches, matches and dispatches in the local paper. They enjoy nothing more than a good wake. Next in order of preference is a wedding, closely followed by the safe delivery of a new baby.

If any of these events falls on the Twelfth of July, then it is indeed a happy day for the graveyard sisters.

Ten years ago, Jones, director Ian McElhinney and composer Trevor Moore took Jones's short one-act play of the same title and turned it into a full-length musical. While the anarchic humour is still laid on with thick, broad brushstrokes and the characters remain predictably larger than life, the rhyming verse script has not lost its knack of hitting plumb on the funny bone of local audiences.

Moore’s score sounds fresh and contemporary, thanks to some fine singing and musical director Mark Dougherty’s full-bodied arrangements. Visually, Stuart Marshall’s minimal fretwork set contains only subtle hints of gable ends and brick terraces, while the twitching net curtains have been replaced by half-open Venetian blinds .

It is a delight to see Sean Kearns, briefly returned from the West End, bestriding the stage as though he owns it. He plays the flaky paterfamilias of the warring Watson clan, whose shenanigans at a monumentally disastrous wedding provide Mona and Molly with much disapproving entertainment.

Marty Maguire gleefully switches between doddering grandfather, elderly femme fatale, leery line dancer and strutting Lambeg drummer in a sprightly production, which does exactly what it says on the tin and will undoubtedly generate brisk business at the box-office.
Runs until July 7th

READ MORE