It’s being billed as Derry’s answer to ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ and from early previews of Irene Melaugh’s ‘A Whole Handlin’ the hilarious play looks set to live up to every bit of that hype.
After a break from treading the boards, Irene is back with a series of laugh out loud one liners, anything but politically correct quips and a stellar cast of local actors ranging from amateur to professional.
The plot is equally as side splitting as Irene’s previous work in the ‘Dumped Divorcee’s Support Club.’
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. Outraged, the husbands in the community want the culprit to swing for her crime while the wives think she should be canonised. 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?’
What unfolds ensures that there won’t be a dry eye in the house as Derry audiences are treated to a laughter filled trip to the theatre which writer Irene says is “just the tonic” after putting up with the January blues.
“The play opens at the Millennium Forum on February 12 and runs for four consecutive nights,” says Irene.
“I think the humour really lifts people at this time of year. Especially after January and during the dark nights and I hope the people who come out to see this will leave with a smile on their faces.”
Despite previous smash hits with the Dumped Divorcees Support Group and Me Da’s Suit, like most authors, Irene is still apprehensive about how the audience will react to her latest work.
“We’ll just have to wait and see,” she says, “It is different in the sense that the suspense builds up to a crescendo and the audience will be very surprised by it!”
Ollie Green, who is promoting the play, says he believes the potential is huge.
“This play can stand up with the likes of Mrs Brown’s Boys no problem at all, and Derry audiences are in for a treat when they see it on home soil,” he said.
Don’t miss the Derry Journal next week for your chance to win tickets to ‘A Whole Handlin’ and see this Sunday’s Journal for the full version of the interview with local playwright Irene.