The opening night of Irene Melaugh’s new comedy ‘A Whole Handlin’ at the Millennium Forum was in fact, the opposite!
A packed crowd laughed out loud as the story twisted and turned and the one-liners kept rolling.
After meeting an untimely death at the hands of his long suffering wife Daisy, the late great drinker, Murphy, is lying ‘in state’ in Derry’s cathedral. In an effort to spring Murphy from the chapel and give him a proper Irish wake, Murphy’s pals organise a march to ‘Free the Derry One.’
But before an accommodation can be reached, Murphy disappears from the Cathedral. The police then show up at the deceased’s watering hole to question his former drinking partners. They want to know who stole the body. Was it the men or the women? Was it Madge ‘The Desperate Spinster’, Dotsie ‘The Doter’, Marie ‘The Husband Terroriser’ or Biddley ‘The Permanently Horizontal Lady of the Night?’
The banter between the characters is hilarious, even before the Murphy storyline unfolds.
A coffin on a stand sat in the foyer of the theatre, with a comical photo of the deceased and half a pint of Guinness. Some people posed for pictures before finding their seats. The entire play takes place in a Derry bar which was the late Murphy’s local. There’s Soupy who gets thrown out several times a day, Bosco who’s more than a little scared to go home to the wife, and the ‘bitches of Eastway’, Madge, Dotsie and Marie. Andrew Newton shines as Liam the long suffering barman, who has to deal with the colourful lives of the regulars on a daily basis.Lynn Mc Carron portrays the loveable Dotsie, who is losing her memory but not her mischievousness.
Irene Melaugh is the playwright, director but also treads the boards as Marie, who’s dead pan and deadly.
It definitely all came together for the wonderful local cast. The wit reflects Derry folk, warm but often with a sharp bite. Even death isn’t taken too seriously.
The audience is left guessing to the end with so much fun in between. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and remind you of Derry’s unique brand of humour.
The play continues until Saturday.