Review: Holy Holy Bus trip just as enjoyable second time around

Stella McCusker in Brassneck Theatre's current production of The Holy Holy Bus by Belfast playwright Pearse Elliott at the Lyric

REVIEW: The Holy Holy Bus, The Lyric, Belfast

I WAS a passenger on the Holy Holy Bus two years ago when it called into the Lyric theatre and I enjoyed the trip so much I went back on Thursday evening for a repeat performance.

I wasn’t disappointed. There are four on the pilgrimage taking in holy shrines along the way: an elderly lady called Lily (Stella McCusker) and her daughter Sally (Roisin Gallagher), along with driver and guide Perpetual (Claire Connor) – all good Catholic women looking forward to climbing Croagh Patrick and doing their penance

Then, at the last minute, we are thrown into gales of laughter by the most rumbustious addition to the roll call, Rita (Caroline Curran), a not-so-wee Prod from the Shankill Road.

Rita doesn’t know much about holy mountains and moving statues and her education is a laugh a minute until, after a few harsh words and some fisticuffs, she eventually bonds with her co-travellers and the barriers come down with surprising and emotional results.

The audience are very much involved with these women and drink in every word but Rita has a wild loud voice which was somewhat distorted with the sensitive sound system, something I am quite sure this will be dealt with.

Stella McCusker is a truly gifted actress with superb timing and in this play, written by Pearse Elliott and directed by Tony Devlin, she excels in portraying a mother who adores her daughter. Lily is also a mischief, who tells her priest she’s got Alzheimer's to get rid of him, turns herself in for murder just for the fun of it and has no difficulty in enjoying a ‘hash’ brownie.

She certainly loses any inhibitions after that.

Each actor in this Brassneck Theatre production has her part to play and they do it well and truly. The audience didn’t seem to want to leave but we did, having enjoyed the evening but also having something to think about – people who put on a brave face and make us laugh are often coping with sad secrets.

:: Until August 20; see for information and booking.

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