O’Carroll’s Bafta-nominated creation, Agnes Brown, a cross between Father Ted and a potty-mouthed Mrs Doubtfire, has incredibly been doing the rounds for over 20 years. With the success of the recent BBC television series, Mrs Brown’s Boys, the redoubtable Irish matriarch has gathered her family around her and hit the road again, reaching bigger audiences than ever before in this latest in a series of five adventures.
Set in the front room of the Brown’s crowded Dublin home, Agnes shares her life, and her opinions with an extra-ordinary array of children, their partners, dodgy friends and neighbours, an alcoholic priest, and even some brave Mormons who naively wander in to preach to the un-preachable. On top of the usual family tribulations (number one son Dermot, is planning a ill-conceived robbery with best mate Buster while his wife is about to give birth to triplets, daughter is dating a policeman with a secret, and flamboyant son Rory feuds with boyfriend Dino) Grandad Brown worries what people will say about him at his funeral so, to find out, Agnes decides to stage his funeral before he dies.
The story, with script written by O’Carroll himself, is little more than a platform for Mrs Brown to launch herself at unpredictable tangetnts, showing off O’Caroll’s extra-ordinarily energetic talent for physical comedy and quick-fire wit. And even if, as I suspect, the seemingly spontaneous un-scripted tirades, which appear to be thrown in as much for the enjoyment of the cast as for the audience are really carefully choreographed routines, it is all done with such joy that, so what? With a cast filled with Brendan O’Caroll’s real life family and friends (including his wife Jennifer Gibney playing daughter Cathy), and a very 1970s end-of-the pier comedy feel (although with distinctly modern language), this is in many ways very traditional British fare. The warmth and good humour radiates out, making the capacity BIC audience part of the family and ‘in on the joke’.
Perhaps a bit like marmite, you will either love or hate this type of comedy show, but if you are lucky enough to have fallen under Mrs Brown’s spell, you are guaranteed a fecking good laugh!