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  • Chris ORourke

The Man In The Woman's Shoes

The Man in the Woman's Shoes. Photo uncredited


The Quiet Man

Sligo man and middle-aged cobbler, Pat Farnon, might well be away with the fairies. No matter, so is everyone else he encounters in Mikel Murfi’s utterly enjoyable, “The Man In The Woman’s Shoes.” It might take a little time to find its feet, but once it picks up the pace Murfi’s delightful tale of love, loneliness and belonging in rural Ireland during the 1970’s is heart warming and hilariously good fun.

In Murfi’s self penned, one-man show, Pat Farnon sets out on a silent journey one ordinary, life-changing day in October 1978. Shoehorning himself into a pair of women’s shoes, Pat travels down and through the village in search of the no-neck, Huby Patterson, and local GAA manager, and Pat’s love interest, the fiery Kitsy, a woman not to be trifled with. Neither man nor beast blinks an eye as Pat sets about breaking Kitsy’s shoes in for her before the match begins; they’ve too many other things to be doing. Yet Pat’s love remains unspoken for the no-nonsense Kitsy, because Pat cannot speak. At least not outside his head, whose thoughts we’re made privy to, where he enjoys his aloneness and his observations. Negotiating the daily routines of madcap neighbours, Pat is perhaps the least conspicuous of all in a community where others set about directing traffic, battling Our Father’s, making prescient pronouncements on the death of the Pope, or challenging the incensed Kitsy from the dubious safety of the sidelines. In the end, walking a mile, or five, in someone else’s shoes might well prove to be that first step on one of life’s all important journeys, but only if you’re brave, or mad enough to take it.

In “The Man In The Woman’s Shoes” Murfi’s marvelous menagerie of memorable misfits inform an almost otherworldly, Brigadoon-like landscape, full of what were once called ‘characters.’ Eccentrics and madcaps whose endearing and recognisable insanities were suffused with an infectious and irresistible charm. All of which Murfi wonderfully creates and evokes in a towering performance, with his most charming of them all being the irresistible Pat. A sort of self-conscious, Michaeleen "Óg" Flynn, Pat is a Barry Fitzgerald of endless information, showing us around his own personal Inisfree. One where Murfi’s quiet man reveals what’s often not seen behind the obvious, in others as well as in himself.

In the tradition of Cinema Paradiso or Christ Stopped at Eboli, “The Man In The Woman’s Shoes” delivers an affectionate, and often sentimental interrogation of a community at a moment in time. A time before it all changes. A memory of a way of life, and of a people time might someday forget, Mikel Murfi’s “The Man In The Woman’s Shoes” has enjoyed unequivocal acclaim everywhere it’s played, nationally and internationally. And it’s plain to see why. So go experience some unequivocal enjoyment by making sure to catch this irresistible, one-man masterpiece.

“The Man In The Woman’s Shoes” written and performed by Mikel Murfi, along with its sequel “I Hear You and Rejoice,” both produced by Loco and Reckless Productions, runs at The Pavilion Theatre until July 29th

For more information, visit The Pavilion Theatre

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