‘A Miracle in Donegal’ - laugh, cry and have a brilliant night out

Playwright Brian Foster with the cast/crew of A Miracle in Donegal. From left are Martin Bradley, Shaunsy Coyle, Kathy Deehan and Eoghan McBride. Front are Ashton Murphy and Sarah McCallion.
Playwright Brian Foster with the cast/crew of A Miracle in Donegal. From left are Martin Bradley, Shaunsy Coyle, Kathy Deehan and Eoghan McBride. Front are Ashton Murphy and Sarah McCallion.

Three priests, a housekeeper and a Highland Radio 
presenter.

It could be an episode of Father Ted, but Brian Foster’s extraordinary new play A Miracle in Donegal, goes one step further. It’s an hilarious production that will have you doubled up on the floor in laughter in one scene and reaching for tissues in the next, thanks to the musical talent of soprano Ashton Murphy.

Opening in An Grianan Theatre on Saturday night, the Donegal audience left the cast in no doubt of their opinion of the play with an instant and lasting standing ovation.

A Miracle in Donegal centres around the Parish of Burnfoot, where a 15 year old girl Katie McDaid (Murphy), claims to have seen visions of the Blessed virgin at the historic Grianan of Aileach fort.

Chaos ensues when the Catholic church is ordered to investigate – with the priests bitterly divided on whether the teenager is telling the truth.

Murphy gave a convincing and moving performance as vulnerable Kate McDaid. Never faltering- you could have heard a pin drop during her haunting rendition of O Holy Night. Truly a memorable performance.

Kathy Deehan, as mouthy housekeeper Tilly Ryan, stole the show with her verbal duels with all of the priests, her quick one liners and perfect comic timing. Every time she appeared on stage the crowd were in stitches. With Tilly, expect the unexpected! Mrs Doyle eat your heart out.

There were also faultless and convincing performances from Shaunsy Coyle and Martin Bradley playing men in black - Father Rock and Father Collins.

But there’s something special about seeing Eoghan McBride on stage. As elderly priest Father Edward D’Arcy, Eoghan’s a million miles from his last performance in a Foster play, as desperate sex starved Bogside spinster Mary Coyle. Disenchanted Father D’Arcy will make you laugh, but he’ll also have you holding your breath, suspended in the drama, wondering what he’s going to do next.

If you want to see a play that will have you leaving the theatre with a warm fuzzy feeling, this is the one for you. The use of musical favourites including Big Bad John, If You’re Irish, and the odd Christmas carol made for seamless traditions from one scene to the next.

Prepare to laugh, cry and have a thoroughly brilliant night out.

One theatre goer remarked on leaving An Grianan: ‘That’s the best’s night’s entertainment I’ve had in years.”

The play runs in Derry’s Millennium Forum from Wednesday November 15, where it plays until Saturday, November 18. Tickets at the box office in 02871264455 or www.millenniumforum.co.uk