The Watergate Theatre Kilkenny keeps the flag flying bravely for fine entertaining customer-pleasing theatre with their sell-out production of J. B. Keane’s clerical comedy, Moll. Set in a Parochial House in the parish of Ballast some time in the seventies, it tells the hilarious story of the legendary power of Moll kettle, the priest’s housekeeper. She rules the roost and feeds up the amenable Canon Pratt while at the same time almost starving the curates.

While it may be of a time long gone from popular memory, it is Keane’s genius and Mick O’Leary’s sharp direction that gives this play a nice contemporary feel. The acting is in the capable hands of an experienced cast who milk and delight in every possible meaning from a lively text.

This is an updated version from the original 1971 premiere but between Ben Barnes and J. B. Keane, the changes just sharpened up the humour and pointed up some social satire.

Marina Boyd gave a good performance as the drink-crazy Miss Andover and Colette Browne brought a sexual chuckle to Bridgie. Tom O’Loughlin, as the sniveleen Ulick was a joy to see.

Don O’Conor was a jovial unctuous Bishop and Liam Conway brought a touch of Fr. Dougal, from Father Ted, to Fr. Lorcan CC.

Brendan Corcoran, as Fr. Brest CC, turned in a fine exasperating study of a priest at his wit’s end and the audience loved his twists and turns.

Donal O’Brien, as the Canon, brought his considerable skills to the role and his underplaying was the touch of a master.

But star of the show was the amazing Mary Craddock as Moll, who was all-knowing, always in control and her performance was sharp, cunning and a lesson in dramatic art and manipulation.

Next weekend the Watergate host the tenth return of the American Keegan Theatre with One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. (11 – 13 September).