A Holy Show takes the hijacking of an Aer Lingus flight and makes it absolutely hilarious
We can't recommend this enough.
The year is 1981.
The place is on board an Aer Lingus flight, heading to London from Dublin.
The people are a hearty mix of mid-80s (mostly) Irish folk, all either making their way to London for a myriad of reasons, or working on board the flight itself.
All... except for the ex-Australian monk who has designs on hijacking the flight.
That is the bonkers set-up for A Holy Show, a new comedy that is pretty much the halfway point between Father Ted and Con Air... and unbelievably, based entirely on a true story.
On stage, we see the bare innards of the plane: two windows that show what is happening "outside", and three seats that make up different rows of passengers.
Roseanna Purcell (not to be confused with Roz Purcell, as some folk did in the crowd the night we watched the show) and Mark Fitzgerald play everyone, of all genders and accents, effortlessly flicking back and forth between two inner city Dublin grannies discussing a new grandchild's name, to a D4 douche'y businessman and his even more D4'y put-upon assistant, to French officials (after the flight is diverted to Paris), to Italian children who are speaking to the Virgin Mary.
Oh yeah, we forgot to mention, the reason for the hijacking: the Australian ex-monk is demanding that the Pope reveal the Third Secret of Fatima, or he'll kill everyone on board.
The details have mostly pretty much been left true to life, but Purcell and Fitzgerald, with writer and director Janet Moran, fill all of the supporting players with perfect Irish comedy, all of the characters immediately identifiable from their ineffable Irishness.
The obvious weirdness of the set-up lends itself quite well to comedy, and everyone involved mines every opportunity to strike gold, but what is more surprising is how heartfelt it can be at times. Faced with potential impending death, the passengers and staff on board occasionally go in a more introspective direction, each taking stock on the past, present, and future in different ways, but all essentially asking the same question: Did I live my life right? Was I a good person?
But knowing never to leave the audience go too long with a laugh across the tight 60-minute run-time, the on-stage duo will be back as the farming newlyweds trying to discuss their upcoming first night together as husband and wife (in exotic Malaga!), or the entire passenger manifest lighting up their cigarette within half-a-second of No Smoking sign being turned off (planes only became entirely smoke-free in 2000).
A Holy Show takes what felt like it could have been a very Irish tragedy, and turns it into an extremely Irish comedy. Highly recommended.
Nationwide tour dates are as follows, with tickets and times available via the venues:
29 January: Town Hall Theatre, Galway
31 January -1 February: Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick
4 February: Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise
5 February: Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray
7 Feb: Ramor Theatre, Cavan
8 February: Visual, Carlow
11-12 February: Civic Theatre, Tallaght
13-14 February: Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire
17 - 20 February: Everyman Cork
21 February: Backstage, Longford
22 February: Draiocht, Blanchardstown
25 February: Glor, Ennis
27 - 29 February: The MAC, Belfast
4-5 March: Irish Cultural Centre, Paris
7 March: Source, Thurles