The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

a night at the opera

Theatre Review
(for the Bridge magazine)

"There is no way I'm going to sit through another damned variety show," I declared. "I've had enough of these wearisome exercises in self congratulation with a cold collation of pseuds raising money for faux charities whose sole purpose in life is to justify the congenitally unemployable using titles like Chief Executive Officer while swanning around Dublin in their BMWs. Pass the sick bag Alice. I'd rather die. Or maybe you'd just hack my arms off with a machete."
"So you don't want a ticket?" ventured my venerable Uncle Bernard who was proffering same. (Tickets, not a machete.)
"Under no circumstances," I averred.
He seemed to take it as a kind of challenge.
A few days later he phoned me.
"I need you to video the concert," he said.
"When is it on?" said I.
"In half an hour," said he.
"Bloody hell," said I.
"Will you do it?"
"You must be in dire straits to be asking me."
"To be honest, we're desperate," quoth he.
And so there I was. Half an hour later. In the back row of Kilcullen theatre, wedged with a video camera between the actress Siobhan Scattergun and her husband Tom Murphy, whose voice is a dead ringer for Enda Kenny's by the way. Siobhan and Tom are a howl. At least they make me howl. I looked around the theatre to see if there was anyone in the audience that I was on speaking terms with. There weren't many. Aside from Siobhan and Tom. And frankly I'd prefer not to havve been on speaking terms with those. But I digress.
The violet hush of evening had descended on Kilcullen as Violet Hush Chairperson of the Friends of the Rise Foundation, introduced the first act in the Charity's fund raising venture.
(Her real name is Brenda O'Grady. - Ed note.)
Tom Murphy and and his wife chose this moment to enquire of me in hoarse whispers: "Tell us again why you were fired from the Leinster Leader?"
If you ever see the video, gentle readers, you'll notice the camera shaking a bit at this point.
That's pure rage, that is. Let he who hath never sat beside Tom Murphy and Siobhan Patterson while trying to video a variety show he didn't want to attend in the first place, stand in judgement on me.
And lo.
Violet Hush had stepped to one side, the curtains had parted, and a cascade of Irish dancers had engulfed the stage.
Suddenly things were starting to look up.
The Lynam School of Dancing may be a bit young for their outfits but by Gadfrey, they can dance.
They were followed by a singer songwriter called Allison Sweeney, and suddenly I thought I might be going to enjoy this.
The delectable Ms Sweeney was followed by the nationally famous oboeist David Agnew.
Tom Murphy chose this moment to enquire conversationally: "Why don't you go back to the Leader?"
I replied: "I'll give you a hundred Euro either to shut up or to shout out loud to David Agnew: Talk about Twink."
Tom Murphy lapsed into silence and Twink's husband got down to business.
Mr Agnew's tootling on the oboe was about as entertaining for me as oboe tootling can be. I even recognised some of the songs: Gabriel's Infernal Tootling from the film The Mission, and Bach's Infernal Tootling in D Minor from Bach.
He stepped off the stage and was replaced by the international singing star Niamh Murray.
Niamh Murray proceeded to wow the audience, transforming the mixum gatherum of Kilcullen first nighters into her own little fan club.
It was extraordinary. I wouldn't have believed I could enjoy myself so much at a recital unless I'd experienced it myself.
Flirtatious, flightly, whimsical and musically superb, Niamh Murray could entrance for Ireland.
There's something about her. She has that rare quality. The quality of the genuine. I wonder was she faking it.
The night rolled on with some lovely cameos and ever more likeable performers.
Dick Dunphy performed a curmudgeonly monologue. Philomena Breslin sang Memories. My Uncle Bernard emceed. There was a sexy country singer. A sexy tin whistler.
The mellow mood of the audience deepened further into something special.
And not just the audience.
The mood of the performers, the fellowship between them, the fondness even, was alchemic.
There's something about seeing toffee nosed lads in tuxedoes sharing the stage with sexy young pop singers and clearly enjoying each other's talents immensely, something about that which hearkens to the golden age of music hall, I tells ee.
This is what theatre is all about.
Jim Stewart sang backed by Clive Snurdlebaum from the Nas Na Ri Infernal Tootlers. Together they delivered some operatic show stoppers.
Accountant turned street musician Peter Walls brought tears to the eyes with his soulful rendition of Garth Brooks The Dance.
For my money the night belonged to Peter Walls. The quality of the genuine again.
When the ensemble gathered on stage to sing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, the audience positively cooed with delight.
This was the biggest tribute of all to the performers and producers, the fact that people were still hungry for more at the end of the night.
I'm told the performers turned out as a favour to Philomena Breslin. The event represented a remarkable marshalling of talent. I've tried to tell you about it without ladling on the cliches. I didn't even want to be there. But even I had to admit, the fellowship, the wit, the accomplished performances, the whole thing, it was extraordinary.
As I left the theatre I bid adieu to Tom Murphy and his lady wife.
"Tom," I said seriously. "I'll give you ten thousand Euros if you'll ring every member of Fine Gael and Labour, tell them you're Enda Kenny, and that they're to vote no to the legaisation of abortion."


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