I will confess, I don’t go to the theatre nearly enough. I’m a massive fan of musicals and I ADORE the West End in London (I have seen The Jersey Boys four times and I am not even a little bit ashamed), but when it comes to the local scene, I’m pretty deprived when it comes the arts. But, after a fantastic and completely impromptu night at The MAC in Belfast’s St Anne’s Square, I’m pretty sure that all of this might change.
When the lovely Louise Vance, blogger of The Real Elle Woods invited me to join her to the opening night of ‘One Sandwich Short Of A Genius’, I didn’t know what to expect. A quick search online told me to expect a comedy about a local Belfast family, and after a particularly stressful week, I thought it would be the perfect tonic, and I certainly wasn’t wrong.
For those who haven’t heard of the comedy, it tells the story of June, a mother so obsessed with keeping up appearances that she actually hires an actor to replace her husband, who has left for Zimbabwe ‘to find himself’. Meanwhile, her daughter is planning a wedding to a man that nobody has met; her son has an unhealthy obsession with rowing; and the entire family is obsessed with the whereabouts of the cat. With so much going on, it really is no wonder that nobody realises the actor isn’t actually Dad; but when you see the show, you’ll realise just how wonderfully absurd it actually is.
According to Shelley Atkinson, who plays highly-strung June: “It is an absurdist comedy about a family where denial is an extreme sport, reality a distant planet and even the furniture has episodes,” she said. “Think Spike Milligan meets the Royle family, meets Ionesco in this hilariously funny, sometimes dark show.”
I totally agree with the Spike Milligan and the Royle family comparisons, but I think I’d throw the down-to-earth, Irish warmth of Mrs Brown’s Boys into the mix too. June is the ultimate Irish mother from her mannerisms to her desire to paint the picture of the perfect family; so much so that she might as well be in your own kitchen.
And even if you think you know what to expect, trust me you don’t. With an innuendo or two, a singalong (catering to my love of a good old musical, I was in heaven!) and even Liam Neeson reference, you’re in for a heck of a show. I was in stitches by the end of the first act, and the second one took things up a notch yet again.
It was my first trip to The MAC, but it certainly won’t be my last. It’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship between me and the theatre, and I only have the fantastic work of The Big Telly Theatre Company to thank. If you haven’t booked tickets, book them now, I promise you that you won’t be disappointed.
Want to see the show? Here’s all of the dates you need:
Cushendall Golf Club – Mon 23 March at 7.30pm
Box Office: 028 7083 6473
Theatre Royal, Waterford – Wed 25 March at 8pm
Box Office: +353 (0)51 874 402 www.theatreroyal.ie
The Garage Theatre, Monaghan – Thurs 26 March at 8pm
Box Office: +353 (0)47 39777 www.garagetheatre.com
Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin – Fri 27 & Sat 28 March at 7.30pm
Box Office: +353 (0)1 6770014 www.smockalley.com
The Alley Theatre, Strabane – Sun 29 March at 8pm
Box Office: 028 7138 4444 www.alley-theatre.com
Riverside Theatre, Coleraine – Wed 1 April at 8pm
Box Office: 028 70 123 123 www.riversidetheatre.org.uk
Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry – Thurs 2 April at 8pm
Box Office: 028 3031 3180
The Market Place Theatre, Armagh – Sat 4 April at 8pm
Box Office: 028 3752 1821 www.marketplacearmagh.com