**** 4 Stars
“continues the winning formula of comedy and slapstick humour “
Thirty years ago, in 1992 Brendan O’Carroll brought the Mammy of all Mammy’s to life in the original radio production of Mrs Brown’s Boys, the hard talking Irish matriarch with a heart of gold who protects her children with fierce loyalty. Due to the sickness of the originally cast actress O’Carroll himself took on the role of Agnes Brown and a juggernaut was born.
There isn’t a person in the UK or perhaps globally who hasn’t heard of Mrs Brown due to the exposure of several high-profile theatre tours, which became arena tours, multiple Television series including spin off talk shows and of course “D’Movie”. The character also remains the jewel in the BBC’s comedy television crown taking its place at the heart of the Christmas Day Schedule.
Following a two-year enforced covid break O’Carroll his extended family and friends are back on the road for the 2022 live tour titled “D’Live Show, The Musical for Moore Street” playing to a sell-out Edinburgh Playhouse following an equally sold out run at Glasgow’s OVO Hydro which clearly demonstrates just how vastly popular Mrs Brown, and her Boys remain to their loyal audience.
It’s a loyal audience that this “D’Live” show relies on as there is very little if any new material in the production with much of the material being reused from the tv series, previous stage productions including D’Musical of which there are eight musical numbers in the show. The major plotline of Moore Street is reused from “D’Movie” in that decision lies the shows only real draw back, is over exposure causing a lack of new story ideas? that may be a critic’s eye view of things however it doesn’t deny the magic Mrs Brown holds over her audiences.
At this particular performance it was clear Brendan was bothered with a tired throat and tickly cough but it did not stop him from putting full energy into his performance aided with his family in the familiar characters that are now cherished as they seek to save Moore Street by putting on a musical at the Olympia Theatre.
Packed with funny asides and constant breaking of the fourth wall the comedy is both slapstick and life driven but never at the expense of a particular group or person. Where Brendan O’Carroll excels is in the moments of pathos, the scenes with his real sister Eilish O’Carroll in the role of best friend Winnie McGoogan are heart felt and touching as Winnie has to deal with potential Breast Cancer diagnosis and must face a second Mammogram.
While the songs don’t stand out, they do add a layer of freshness to the overall production but the lingering moments in the darkness do detract and you can’t help but wonder if in bigger arenas there are giant screens showing footage, screens which cant be fitted into the playhouse.
Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Live Show continues the winning formula of comedy and slapstick humour that appeals across the generations whilst having real heart based in the realities of life. Given the darkness of the last two years being able to join together and share humour is vitally important and for that Mr O’Carroll along with Mrs Brown and Her Boys deserve our thanks!
Mrs Brown’s Boys: D’Live Show, The Edinburgh Playhouse, run ended