REVIEW: 'Are You There Garth? It's Me, Margaret' would not best please the man himself
There are some funny moments in Fiona Looney's Are You There Garth? It's Me Margaret but the mix in tone between comedy and farce quickly lost me.
First, the good.
Deirdre O'Kane as Margaret is excellent, taking the only plaudits here as the mother of a family that includes an autistic son, a bullied daughter, another son forced to mature beyond his years and a father long since checked out.
Her one hope of recapturing the glory of her early years, or at least some sliver of grace in a mundane life, comes with the promise of a trip to Croke Park to relive the scene where she kissed her future husband for the first time.
The three lead male actors - including Maclean Burke as the titular superstar - play a succession of parts, from a money hungry GAA contingent, a bumbling set of city councilmen, beleaguered promoters, protesting residents, bumbling politicians and the Garth crew; the man himself and his kiss arse chorus.
There's a bit of needle. Writer Fiona Looney is clearly with the spurned housewives of Ireland, having Garth cry out about being "no hillbilly!" one moment and craving fried chicken and pie the next.
There isn't one sympathetic male character in the piece, the feeling that sexism can work both ways rippling through the evening.
Racial stereotyping is the biggest sin, however, from the central male player made out to be little more than a honey-voiced yokel to that inexplicable Mexican ambassador, decked out in poncho and sombrero lest we miss the point.
Thanks for that.
Even Enda Kenny's characterisation is off (stuff becoming schtuff, city council becoming shitty council in a cruel mish-mash of his native Mayo and Kerry).
For all that farce, there is one moment of inspiration with the final scene - the introduction of a character previously only referred to off stage - leaving us with a sense of hope and almost, but not quite, redeeming the majority of what had gone before.
I'm not its target audience and this probably isn't one worth overthinking. The mammies may love it but one thing is certain; it's a good thing that Brooks' representatives have rubbished reports he'll be over to see it.
One look at his portrayal and he'd never set foot in the country again.