I Hear You and Rejoice, Tricycle Theatre, review: ‘Endlessly surprising and humane’
PUBLISHED: 08:00 24 June 2017
Mikel Murfi’s wondrous one-man show, fittingly performed on the bare, makeshift stage of the Tricycle’s cinema is the sequel to his much-loved The Man in the Woman’s Shoes
‘What is it we do in a lifetime?’ asks Pat Farnon, the grieving mute cobbler at the funeral of his indomitable wife Kitsy Rainey. Mikel Murfi’s wondrous one-man show, fittingly performed on the bare, makeshift stage of the Tricycle’s cinema (while the theatre continues its refurbishment) is the sequel to his much-loved The Man in the Woman’s Shoes. Rural Sligo and Murfi morphing his way through a gallery of characters might feel picaresque and dated. But the result is anything but. What we get is a stunning performance and a celebration of the joy of everyday human interaction.
Kitsy is a force of nature. Arriving in Sligo one day in 1985 sporting a dark bob and blaze of red lipstick, she surprises everyone by choosing to marry ageing Pat rather than her numerous other suitors. She becomes Pat’s voice just as Murfi becomes the many characters who remember her. For closet gay Jimmy, Kitsy is a rebellious scion; a defiant she-devil who rules the roost because ‘in hell they won’t have her.’ For local gossip Sylvia, she’s the infuriating customer who one day buys up all the newspapers in order to hide the fact her beloved football team have lost the championship. For Priest Hubey she is the self-declared sister of the Holy Ghost, insisting after her cancer diagnosis that her funeral should be quick - ‘why do 20 minutes when two will do?’
The monologue begins with a gently sung homily but the subsequent pacing is fast. A few extra beats might help in establishing the characters but the writing is spry and sure-footed. Reveals about Pat’s disability are sensitively bedded into the narrative. Murfi’s physical dexterity over 75 minutes is astonishing. Barefoot throughout, his legs stiffen, shoulders hunch and eyes widen for Pat while his hands seem to span yards or shrink to childlike proportions depending on the character he’s channelling. The wit is endlessly surprising and humane. With a deeply spiritual finale, Murfi’s celebration of pure unbridled love found late in life rings out. Rejoice indeed.
Rating: 5/5 stars