Moondharrig Players Mooncoin began in 1990 and built up an enviable reputation for drama with a mostly JB Keane programme which they excelled in. But, this year, after an absense in 2007, they returned with a difficult modern comedy by Ray Cooney, Run For Your Wife, which they transposed from UK to Dublin suburbs. John Smith, a taxi driver, has a wife in Rathmines an a wife in Phibsboro and with his shift pattern he manages to keep both happy. Then, disaster, when he is bashed on the head and after a night in hospital he comes home to the wrong house in his timed schedule.
To make matters worse, the police bring him home to Mary in Rathmines when Barbara in Phibsboro has reported him missing. Such is the contrived basis for a side-splitting comedy that slowly gathers momentum into a glorious second act that is crammed with antics, surprises, side-splitting comedy, absurd farce, wonderful reactions and impressive acting and reacting.
If the pace flagged for a minute you might see through the confusion, but it is to Liam Hoban’s credit as a director/producer that he manages to accelerate the mayhem and deliver an amazing night of comedy. I saw a Fair City cast do this play some years ago and I was far more impressed by this Moondharrig production for sheer physical madcap antics with split-second timing.
Much of the amazing success of this production rests with the excellent acting and reacting of Michael Conway as John Smith. He bounced off the set, the furniture and his infectious, but controlled energy, kept the audience in the howls of laughter.
Seamus Kearns, s lazy lodger Stanley Gardner, adds much to the mirth the way he keeps putting his foot-in-it, to great effect and he was a wonderful foil for Conway. Frank Hogan was wonderful as the curious but confused Phibsboro detective and his facial bewilderment was a joy to watch, as the farce got wilder and wilder. George Carpendale as the gay D.I.Y. neighbour, Bobby Franklin, was more over-the-top than expected and he zipped in and out getting more red paint stained every time. It might be a little pity that he seemed to be enjoying himself too much but no matter.
Ronan Walsh was a great meticulous, plodding Rathmines detective, who got more exasperated as the plot went wild and he was a great contrast to Frank Hogan. Aine Kearns had a great line in screaming and she was in and out of her dress so often without a boob astray, as wife Mary in Rathmines. Breda Walsh as wife Barbara in Phibsboro was a cooler, more exasperated, role but she gave the production such contrast.
Pat Dalton did the lighting. I didn’t like the set but I did have an uproarious time in the Mooncoin Parish Hall.