Crazy | Theatre Review
Grand Opera House, Belfast • Tuesday 23 May 2017
By Conor O’Neill
After debuting in The MAC back in May 2015, Brenda Murphy’s Crazy hits Belfast again. After a couple of nights in Armagh’s Marketplace Theatre, a newly written version sees the Grand Opera House heaving with those familiar with the play, plus another 300 or so more that couldn’t fit into The MAC first time round. The rewrite isn’t absurdly different, thankfully the cast has remained the same, but deft little touches add a little more depth to the show.
Marty Maguire’s Uncle Eddie is less one dimensional from the initial run; he still plays the ‘Del Boy’ of the show frightened of the shower, ‘I have a bath every month whether I need it or not!’. The introduction of his hero, namely, Garth Brooks, gives Eddie a touch of sensitivity maybe missing in the original. Caroline Curran’s Ruby is a delight so much so that we don’t see her for the first fifteen or so minutes of the play. The set hasn’t changed a bit. Two years after first seeing the show it’s like stepping back into a favourite auntie’s living room. Niall Rea, as usual, lives up to expectations.
Cairan Nolan’s Gary still awaits treatment for his cushion arranging, names and days on bananas, a multitude box of household cleaning solutions, including the fab intro of ‘Shake ‘n’ Vac to put a hole in yer back’. He’s the only one of the cast not to feature singing a full tune of his own; I don’t know if he’s tone deaf but whatever he lacks in vocal abilities doesn’t detract from his spot on character of the OCD paramedic, Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran whose loves falls on barren ground.
Again GBL and Martin Lynch are at the helm, and both Director Lynch and writer Murphy agree this show has been a more collaborative move with those front of stage and the others in the shadows putting a little more into what’s finally being delivered. In an interview with CultureHUB, both writer and director stress the importance of relying more on the musicianship of Garth McConaghie and choreography of Sarah Johnston to provide a bigger and better show.
Purists fear not; the plot still follows the same groove of the original. All the named characters are there, either spoken about or acted by Maguire and Nolan or friends of Ruby. Murphy’s mucky mind can’t forget such delights as Billy Big Balls, Seymour from Gambia, No Arms Larry, Bugles Benny, Silicon Sally, Joanna Metre, Bob the American, the McCubree brothers, Big Frank and Scabby Arse, and many more. Throw in porn films such as ‘Shaving Ryans Privates’, ‘Rocky Dildoa’ ‘Inspect Her Gadget’ and the rest of the dirty word play and there’s a laugh a minute.
Arriving back from Gambia with a tan and broken heart, Ruby searches the internet for what’s right in front of her, if only, as uncle Eddie aptly put it to Gary, ‘Fuckin’ grow a set’. The rewrite sees a wee word about Brexit, Grindr, which Eddie seems to know too much about, and Plenty Of Fish getting a mention.
After meeting the daft and the ridiculous, from an oul man barely able to hobble across the stage, Maguire says so little but adds so much; to the Builder From Ballysillan who appears to be speeding his nuts off as the nervous ticks have to line up and form a disorderly queue, then to Normal Brian, the perv with the helmet and fantasies of the Sydenham Bypass naked with Ruby tits a-flying under the moonlight.
Melbourne’s calling, the Ozzies need social workers. Who woulda thought it from a nation built on the back of criminals and the sundered? Enter maybe the best bit or most traumatic part of the show as Gary delivers a rant on everything from boxing kangaroos, to spiders eating cats, crocs on golf courses, snakes crawling up the bog to attack your arse, rapists, serial killers … Jesus, just don’t mention Brisbane.
All the above changes, I wouldn’t have noticed from the original, but with two years hindsight and explanation, it all makes perfect sense.
Murphy, Lynch and company may ‘Have Friends In Low Places’ and can only be certified as ‘Crazy’, but without the whole damn lovely dreamt up professional mess … it wouldn’t have been the grand night out it was. Triffic Rodney.
Standing ovations, well earned.
For booking details visit ww.goh.co.uk or phone the Box office on 02890 241919
Crazy runs from 23 May to 27 May.