New play has audience rolling with laughter

Oh Baby, Brenda’s done it again

Fiona Hall as Madison, Nichole Murphy as Patsy and Kevin Elliott as Joe in Baby It’s Cold Outside Fiona Hall as Madison, Nichole Murphy as Patsy and Kevin Elliott as Joe in Baby It’s Cold Outside
By Anthony Neeson

Leaving the Cultúrlann on Monday night an audience member ahead of me turned to her friend and said, “I’ve never seen a bad play at Féile yet.”

As we slowly made our way down the stairs, other members of the audience were quoting lines from the comedy we had just watched and were laughing out loud at what they had just seen. What they had just seen was the latest offering from Ballymurphy playwright Brenda Murphy, who co-wrote the smash hit that is A Night With George.

Has she another hit on her hands with Baby It’s Cold Outside? She certainly has the potential that a tweak or two wouldn’t sort out, but that’s what Féile does, launches plays and then let’s the writer embark on a little bit of fine tuning. And as the audience member says, Féile has a reputation of premiering great plays.

There are so many things about Baby It’s Cold Outside to admire. Like all good plays, the storyline is simple and on this occasion takes place in one room: a cottage on the outskirts of West Belfast where three lesbians – Patsy, Madison and Sally are living happily. Enter Ballymurphy lad Joe, who is played by Kevin Elliott.

Patsy (Nichole Murphy) is eight-and-a-half months pregnant with Joe’s baby, but doesn’t want Joe in her life. Add American Madison (Fiona Hall) and Sally (Sarah Wilson) and the tension begins to build. Oh yeah, and did I mention that it’s snowing heavily outside, and all four are holed up together for 24 hours as the big freeze cuts them off from the rest of the world.

Kevin Elliott comes into his own in this play and his timing is perfect during the exchanges with love of his life Patsy and later with Madison and Sally. Brenda Murphy promised a comedy “that’s everything you wanted to know about lesbians but were too afraid to ask” but the play also explores prejudices and ignorances that are still prevalent in society.

All the actors are from West Belfast and make their characters believable. There are some really funny lines, some  of them too crude for a family newspaper, but the screams of laughter from the audience reflected both shock and recognition.

I’m under instruction from the writer not to reveal the end, but for a full five minutes everyone in the full house at the Cultúrlann theatre were laughing uncontrollably at the events that were being played out in front of them.

Baby It’s Cold Outside has unfortunately finished its Féile run, but my money’s on it returning in the not-too-distant future. If you haven’t had a good laugh in ages, go along and see it.

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