Mrs Brown - the Irish matriarch with a foul mouth and brilliant put downs is back in the second part of Brendan O' Carroll's trilogy. Grandad has decided that he wants to be at his own funeral to listen to the nice things that people have to say. Eldest son Dermot tries to plan this fake funeral but has his own dilemma to contend with; fatherhood. Gay son Rory and his partner Dino have split up and urgently need counselling. Mrs Brown, herself is tearing her hair out as all around her chaos looms.
Mrs Brown's Last Wedding charmed audiences all over the UK last year as the politically incorrect quickfire humour had people bent over double laughing. The second part retains much of the humour but has two major flaws, the running time and the lack of a narrative. As funny as O'Carroll's comic creation is, she needs a plot and a 90 minute one at that. The audience are bombarded with jokes - most of them funny - but they seem more suited to a stand up routine than a fully-fledged play.
The supporting characters are underwritten and act merely as bystanders to Mrs Brown's ranting and raving. Jennifer Gibney plays the earnest daughter Jenny with ease but you long for her character to do more than just react to the farcical elements of the piece.
O'Carroll dominates the proceedings with his scene stealing performance, whenever he totters off stage, his cardigan and pinny-wearing creation is so missed that you wonder why she doesn't have her own stand up show ala Lily Savage.
O'Carroll's direction overall is patchy. At times the plot grinds to a stand still and many scenes require urgent trimming. A distinctly out of place song and dance number closes the play. All this serves to do is poorly disguise the fact that there is no other way to tie up the many loose ends left dangling.
Ultimately many of the jokes are so hilarious that you can almost forget that the play is so overlong. But you do wonder why the 1970's style representations of gay people remain so pivotal when they do not move the plot forward in any way whatsoever. Pandering to a middle aged audience for cheap laughs is not really necessary, as there is much funnier material here from a comic genius - hence, three stars.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Opera House, Manchester)