City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Good Mourning Mrs Brown

By Lindsay Corr - Posted on 03 September 2008

Agnes Brown (Brendan O'Carroll)
Show Details
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Naughty Nannies and Shocking Seniors are not new devices on the comedy circuit but remain popular crowd pleasers, which can be seen in full effect with Brendan O'Carroll's acid-tongued, tea-drinking mammy Agnes Brown.

Good Mourning is the second instalment of four about this dysfunctional Irish family and the trials and tribulations they encounter (and often create) in their everyday working-class lives. It's irrelevant whether you've seen the first installment or not, as good old-fashioned entertainment takes the place of anything remotely resembling underlying issues or lessons to and corpsing are more commonplace than plot.

The mainframe of story with this part focuses on the plight of "unloved" Grandad Brown (Dermot O'Neill) who enlists his family (rather easily) to plan a fake funeral for him as he wants to know people's reactions to his passing. Meanwhile Dermot Brown (Paddy Houlihan) and incompetent pal Buster (Danny O'Carroll) are still pulling moves, while Dermot's wife Maria (Fiona O'Carroll) struggles with pregnancy, screaming homosexual Rory Brown (Pat Shields) is having problems with lover Dino (Gary Hollywood) while Cathy Brown (Jennifer Gibeny) is still trying to find a man and be a councillor without Ma Agnes sticking her endearingly annoying gob in.

Set on a split-stage living room and kitchen, Mammy makes the most of tart one-liners about her clan and any subject she should encounter. It is glaringly obvious that the "quadrilology" of Agnes Brown plays are merely a platform to transport Brendan O'Carroll's rebellious, surreal sense of humour - the rest of the cast merely incidental and catalysts for one of Agnes' rants, yet every member of cast attacks the stage with aplomb and glee. It might be argued that O'Carroll's plot and dialogue could benefit from third party direction; his own robust hand very much apparent with alter ego Agnes Brown dictating the action. However, the current formula seems to work for the audience and cast alike who eat up every ounce of the fast-paced, non-PC humour.

The droll asides, jokes, jibes and physical clowning are, for the majority, achingly funny but when Mrs Brown leaves the stage, although only for brief moments, the comedy and pace falls somewhat flat, and often the moments bordering on seriousness between the characters don't go down well with an audience still recovering from a joke from 5 minutes ago.

Regardless of subject, be it magazines, contraception, religion or dating - Mammy always has something to say...and then some. O'Carroll indeed deserves praise for his creation who is a comedic figure that will stay in the memory long after the show. Who would've thought a three-minute rant about badges could be so entertaining! This may look as though the cast are forgetting lines and winging it, but they know exactly what they're doing and the delivery of the puns is always right on cue. It really is a thoroughly funny night of pure entertainment bordering on pantomime where you can check your brain at the door, sit back and just enjoy.

© Lindsay Corr, September 2008

Times: 2- 6 September @ 7.30pm