By Conor O’Neill
‘I’ll tell me ma when I get home… she is handsome she is pretty, she is the girl from…’
We all know the movie Mickybo and Me, and as good as they film might be, there’s nothing better than live theatre. I reviewed the Lyric’s live streamed version of this play at the end of June and found it thrilling, full of physicality, with a beautiful script from the pen of Owen McCafferty. Chuck in Bruiser Theatre Company’s talented director Lisa May, plus the acting capabilities of Michael Condron as Mojo and Terence Keeley as the super-hyper Mickybo and what we have here is a stunning, breath-taking piece of fine theatre.
Obviously the Lyric’s Naughton studio was not at full capacity; track and trace, facemasks mandatory, hand sanitiser never far away and the usual pre-show atmosphere of a choc-a-bloc bar somewhat hushed by the fact that only 60 seats host bums of the just more than the half filled auditorium was on everyone’s mind.
But there’s nothing better than 60 theatre lovers watching two veterans acting like their arses depended on it.
The set has a Mad Max meets Tolkien’s Shire calamity to it. It serves both as the road, the hut, the movie house, frantically knocked front doors, Batman ‘KAPOWS’, kitchens, ice cream parlours, the Timbers and dancing halls, just to name a few. The neon backdrop at times full of violence, at others serene light suiting more intimate moments.
There’s good reason this Is called Mojo Mickybo, Condron’s Mojo is both narrator and acts as many characters as his blood brother – Terence Keeley – Mickybo. Nine-year-olds in a suddenly divided 1970 Belfast. But the Troubles are the least of their minds. The football, the two-man-gang, spitting competitions, cowboys and indians, mad dads, suffering mothers, ‘Gank the Wank’, Fuck Face, Torture and a stolen chopper feature heavily as these two youngsters live in a world of Willy Wonka ‘pure imagination’.
As for the characters, well, there’s more than enough to fill the boots of the Dr Martin’s warehouse. Uncle Sydney, Torch woman, Barney-Rip-The-Balls, Mojo’s Ma, Mickybo’s da and his love of dance and Aussie desires all adds to a brilliant set up. All plays and stories run on the basis of set-up, tension and comfy conclusion. The latter hardly likely given to Northern Ireland’s downbeat nature.
There’s a sudden change. An event. The event. Changes all.
What made this such a special night, and not just the fact of being in a theatre; it’s the energy of hearing Adidas Sambas screech on a wooden floor, feet banging up planks, hearing a messed up beginning of a line, laughter in unison, the taut nature of two actors at full throttle. That’s what made last night super special.
We all make friends, some we lose. This is the crux of this fascinating piece of theatre.
Mojo Mickybo runs at the Lyric until Sunday October 3rd. To book tickets visit http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or phone the box office on 02890 381081.