‘The Real McCoy’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by April 3, 2017

‘The Real McCoy’ is a hilarious, madcap Irish comedy, with plenty of gut laughs; it comes from the pen of Tubbercurry (also called Tobercurry) playwright, Tommy Marren. During his secondary education in Banada Abbey, Tommy always wanted to work in radio. After a couple of short jobs pushing paper, he became the anchorman on a County Sligo weekend sports show, for Midwest North West Radio. After 12-years, he was appointed to the major post of ‘Head of speech programming’. Now, after 18 years, he still has his own daily slot, bringing a huge variety of musical genres to his audience.

Due to his generosity, the fees for Marren’s play, ‘The Banshee of Crokey Hills’ raised almost 100,000 euros for various charities.

This play is not connected to the 1993 film of the same name.

The Irish Theatre Players Incorporated are based in Perth, and are the only theatre group in Australia specialising in plays written by Irish authors, or with Irish themes.

This play is the sequel to Marren’s play, ‘Nobody’s Talking To Me’. ‘The Real McCoy’ is also set in rural Ireland in the early 1970s. It was one of the longest running, continuous touring productions in Ireland. ‘The real McCoy’ is an idiom or expression for ‘the genuine article’.

This rip-roaring presentation can be viewed from the well-tiered seating at the Irish Club of WA, 61 Townshend Road, Subiaco, each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at 8.00 pm, until Saturday 7th April. There is a Sunday matinée on 2nd April at the later time of 3.00 pm.

As always, a free, quality light supper and sherry are included in the ticket – all served in Nora’s farmyard! A fun idea.

 

The scene is rural Ireland in the 1970s. The location is the Molloy’s kitchen – dining room. Aidan Murphy’s set was well constructed, painted in cream and lilac being typical of the adventurous colours being used in the 70s. The furniture and the many props gave the appearance of a smart farmhouse that was being run on a budget, and displaying the 33 years of clutter. A very good, ‘lived-in’ set.

The house front door was to the right side of the stage on the auditorium floor.

 

      68-year old Madge Molloy (Caroline McDonnell) is setting the dinner table when her daughter Maura (Shannon Murphy) arrives home. Madge is in a bad mood, and her sharp tongue is particularly acrid. Tomorrow, it will be 33 years since her husband, Tom (Frank Glackin) of only 5 months, went off to a ceilidh and never returned.

      When Maura’s nervous, dim boyfriend, Martin (Brian O’Donovan) the local postman, calls around, now Madge has someone on whom to vent her frustrations. Maura yearns to know more about her lost father, only to be constantly greeted with a tirade of derogatory words.

      This miserable vixen did not even soften when the new curate in the parish, Father McCoy (Bobby Donaghy) arrived, to find out why Madge had not been to either of the morning Masses.

      Within seconds of Father McCoy leaving the farmhouse, the ears of the village, Nora O’Hora (Denice Byrne) and her brain dead daughter, Cora (Rachel Bartlett), call for the latest gossip.

       What will happen on the 33rd anniversary? Will Madge ever see her husband again?

 

It takes a special kind of director to squeeze every ounce of humour from a script, but actor / director Denice Byrne was just the girl! She selected an outstanding cast with varying experience, from newcomer Bobby Donaghy, to Finley Award nominees and winners. Each actor created his or her own little mannerisms, thoroughly understanding and demonstrating the rich characters that the playwright has created.

The sound and light teching were by John Spurling, John Woolrych and Nathan Holland. The lighting system is old, but the complexity of the lighting and the ingenuity of the design were excellent. The sound effects were realistic, with just the right amount of volume and duration.

The delightful costumes were made that little bit quirky by costume mistress, Liz Quigley, with a little bulking and slightly ill-fitting garments.

As well as being one of the funniest plays that I have seen in years, with a laugh every 30 seconds, it was a ‘complete’ show. There was a quality set, first class teching, superb direction, a magnificent richly written script and a talented cast that carried the situation off perfectly.

The curtain call beat anything that I have seen in Community Theatre. As the cast came onto the stage in pairs, the noise of the applause was deafening. By the time that the female lead, Caroline (Madge) took her bow, more than half the house were on their feet, in a standing ovation.

What can one say? This is a show that I will remember and laugh at for years.