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The Review - THEATRE by Simon Wroe
Published: 15 November 2007
No peace at Peggy’s

By Howard Loxton

BELFAST 1998 and Tony Blair is trying to broker peace in Northern Ireland, but there is no peace in the home of Ulsterwoman Peggy Morrow, gin-swigging, effing and blinding ruler of her household. Devoted postie husband Willie never gets a word in edgeways.
Then there’s son Kyle, whose pop records compete with her old LPs of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald, the Hollywood screen lovers whose songs accompanied her courtship.
What happened to that romance? There is a back story there, involving a loyalist paramilitary and a dead daughter, that is gradually revealed but, behind Peggy’s belligerent façade, there is still an old romantic, visited by dreams of a singing Canadian Mountie straight out of Rose Marie.
When Peggy’s suspicions are confirmed that Kyle is gay, she wants him out of the house, but he goes on hunger strike, locked in his room. To make it worse his boyfriend is a Catholic.
“Dreams are the gateway to a better reality,” claims the Nelson Eddy stand-in (a delightfully tongue-in-cheek cross-gender performance by Wendy Parkin) and the play hilariously works through mother-son confrontation to its solution, by way of hallucinatory experiences with the Prod paramilitary and a camouflage and balaclava-kitted member of the Irish Queer Liberation Army as well as the singing Mountie, and real visits from a Prod Vicar, a Catholic Cardinal and a member of the Ulster Constabulary.
Gillian Hannah is great as the foul-mouthed mother, Billy Boyle a gentle long-suffering dad (and the camp Cardinal) with Declan Harvey, a Kyle that has all his mother’s stubbornness and Russell Simpson as gentle boyfriend Donal. Colm Gormley completes the company with a trio of very different cameos and the whole is kept on the boil by Natalie Cowan’s lively direction – though I could wish she wouldn’t fade those old movie numbers out mid-line.
This show isn’t just for the gay crowd. It casts a satirical glance at Northern Ireland and the family as well as showing bigotry and homophobia defeated, with loads of laughs on the way.
Until November 25
020 7307 5060

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