Lyric Theatre Belfast
Death of a Comedian
Until Sunday 8th March 2015
‘Death of a Comedian’ is a hefty piece of work by Owen McCafferty. It’s non-stop dialogue, three actors and a minimal set. Yet the audience attention is held at all times in this thoughtful, well constructed play.
The story is of a small time comedian called Steve. He plays pubs and clubs, late at night when the punters are more interested in drink than his doubtful humour. The one saving grace is his girlfriend Maggie, she keeps him positive, encourages him to develop his routines but they always seem the same, he sounds like Ardal O’Hanlon in Father Ted and he keeps his head down addressing only the first couple of rows. He’s dying on his feet yet his dream is that an agent will come along and spot him. Seems an unlikely dream ever to come true. However, truth is stranger than fiction and the agent turns up, says he detects talent but it needs to be honed.
First thing is to get rid of his girlfriend, she’s holding him back, so Maggie is ditched. His image isn’t right so Doug literally strips his client and re-dresses him and things get better, big stages, big audiences and then a TV slot. Agent Doug proceeds to take the comedian from stage to stage and as he does so the comedian gains assertiveness and a following, still not very funny, still the same old gags but he sells it well, looses the Irish accent, dresses the part – it’s looking good. He embraces the whole audience, talks a good talk, but something is missing. At the beginning of the play the girlfriend tells him, ‘It can’t be easy standing in front of strangers and telling them what you think.’ It sticks in his head until one night, in the middle of a performance, he asks for the houselights to be brought up and he just talks to us, the audience, he tells us what he thinks. But will he realise he’s being used by the spiv with the banana coloured shoes? Or will he go back to what he knows and who he loves?
Brian Doherty, the comedian, Katie McGuinness his girlfriend and Shaun Dingwall the agent hold our attention throughout an hour and half.
An important new play, an excellent production with complex lighting, set to travel far and wide.
Details at www.lyrictheatre.co.uk
By Anne Hailes
Check all Anne Hailes Belfast Times reviews here.