The Real House Wives of Norn Iron, theatre review, Grand Opera House, June 3rd, 2019
By Conor O’Neill
Once again I find myself in a tiny minority in what has a hen’s night feel to the proceedings. Belfast Grand Opera House once again is exposed to the cracking Belfast tones of Caroline Curran – Maggie Muff to most of us – but Curran, aka Jean, dinner lady, does not hold centre stage this time, each character holds their own, apart from Fermanagh farmer’s wife, Dora (Rosie McClelland), who has little trouble with her flatulence.
This rough and ready keeper of the country really puts the ‘streak’ into streaky bacon. If only she could get her big toes waxed and meet Pamela Ballantine?
From the same writer as the 50 Shades of Red, White and Blue series, Leesa Harker, in her latest swipe at modern culture, holds a cynically fractured mirror up to reality tele. Aptly opening in Belfast the same night as the latest series of Love Island graces, or depending on your point of view, disgraces our TV screens.
And what to expect? In an interview with CultureCrush NI, Harker saw the Real House Wives format to be the perfect way of getting four different classes of women together on stage. We have Cynthia (Roisin Gallagher), ‘BT9 is not just a postcode you know’, who loves her bubbly, health foods, yoga and peering down her nose to anyone that isn’t married to a man of money. Hubby, former high-flying inspector of the RUC during the height of the Troubles can’t seem to get a stiffie at the mo’. Grant’s truncheon is now well and truly flattened, but there are pills for that these days, right?
The fourth of the crew is Northern Ireland’s footie wag, Awonka. Played by Diana Doherty, this Polish immigrant now calls Derry/London Derry/Stroke City amongst others home as she tries to assimilate to our wee divided country. But what about the charge Gerry TrouserSnake (Patrick McBrearty) who has one eye on ratings and the other on Awonka. But sex is not the first thing on his mind. News from the producers states ‘they’re all getting on too well. Get some muck on them and light the fuse’.
The LA Snake doesn’t waste a New York Minute ad suddenly we have gambling addictions, diet pill reliance, and an Instagram friendly-yet-too-friendly hubby-to-be.
The script is tighter than a Lambeg Drum, but to the women in the crowd, all 1000 of them, it’s the dance/music scenes that really get their collective lungs singing and hips shaking. Tinnitus on the way out is the order of the day. A rendition of the Dallas theme song gets an a capella, Wham’s, I’m Your Man will never be listened to in the same light again, Cindy Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun get a few moments that would even have Billie No Neck bopping his somewhat stiffened nugget; talking about ‘stiffening’ Bros’ When Will I Be Famous leaves old Trouser Snake pole vaulting all over the GOH’s stage.
Two hours in and out, Trouser Snake gets his cumuppance, literally, and a thousand women plus us few fellas all leave with a smile on our faces.
Orange County, New York, Cheshire? You got feck all on The Real Housewives of Northern Ireland.Tickets are literally flying out the box-office, but the GOH has put on a few extra nights and matinees, plus Trouser Snake, if he can make it, will join the girls on a tour of the North.
For booking details visit http://www.goh.co.uk or ring the box office on 02890241919
For full tour details drop Leesa a line on firstname.lastname@example.org Harker is looking writers to send scripts in the summer with the possibly of collaboration in September. Young writers, don’t miss this chance