'Dirty realism' in Brenda Murphy's new play Crazy

A LOT OF CRAIC: Caroline Curran and Ciaran Nolan in a scene from Brenda Murphy's comedy play Crazy

In a way, Brenda Murphy's new play Crazy which was premiered at The MAC last night could have been called What would Patsy Cline do?

Or indeed say or sing, as the three characters caught in a kind of comic hell all consulted her at key moments by glancing towards her portrait on the walls of Gary's Belfast house.

Happily, Ms Cline's glorious outpourings of country punctuated the show so we heard greats like I'm Walking After Midnight (Looking for Love) as our heroine was doing just that at the front of the stage.

In terms of plot, the play is based on a bluesy proposition about twentysomething orphan Ruby looking for Mr Right.

In this pursuit, she is aided and prevented by Gary (nice Ciaran Nolan), the lanky guy who's besotted with her and Eddy (excellent Marty Maguire), her feckless cousin who is a kind of East Belfast Del Boy without the intellect.

Just as country music wears its heart on its often fake fur sleeve, so our trio of hopefuls didn't hold back in terms of confession.

Caroline Curran, whom we know as the brave, bold Maggie Muff in Leesa Harker's plays, played virtually the same role as Ruby.

The scene where she returns from the Gambia as a disappointed sex tourist was, like much of the drama, potentially moving yet simultaneously in-your-face filthy.

Ms Curran is one of our best actresses and her performance avoids over-sentimentality

Something new has been happening on the Northern Irish theatre scene since Fifty Shades of Red, White and Blue opened on this very stage in 2013.

You could call it a kind of dirty realism, a look at real people's lives with real language (much unrepeatable in this paper, including gags about Isis and ebola) and it maybe needs a sociologist rather than a drama reviewer to work it out.

It isn't Oscar Wilde, but then it's not meant to be and the audience, 75 per cent of them female and out for a good time, loved it, whooping and booing as if at an adult panto.

Maybe that's the form it represents with good, evil, humour and a lot of craic.


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