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  • Chris ORourke

Dublin Fringe Festival 2018: A Holy Show

Catríona Ennis in A Holy Show. Image by Ste Murray


A Fun Bumpy Ride

Airport meets Airplane meets Hall’s Pictorial Weekly in Janet Moran’s delightful comedy “A Holy Show.” Based around the true story of flight EI164 in May, 1981,“A Holy Show” follows the exploits of a delusional monk and the passengers on the plane he hijacks. All in an effort to force the Pope to reveal the third secret of Fatima. If “A Holy Show” shows a little smug superiority looking back at the Ireland of 1981, even if some things haven’t changed unfortunately, all is soon forgiven by its lashings of heart and humour. And two utterly winning performances by Catríona Ennis and Patrick Moy.

Early signs don’t always bode well in “A Holy Show” which travels through a lot turbulence initially. Indeed, Moran appears to have overextended a little with a barrage of passengers needing to be set up, and boarded, which sees action and pace drag awhile, as each is introduced in short, almost sound bite sequences. All of which lends “A Holy Show” a cinematic feel, whose brevity in places doesn’t always translates easily to the stage. Yet, once established, in a terrifically effective set design by Molly O’Caitlin, featuring superb AV by Neil O’Driscoll, along with Ivan Birthistle’s split second sound design and Sinead Wallace’s impressive lighting, Moran quickly proves herself mistress of the salient detail and dialect. Endearing the audience to two elderly Dublin women, a young married couple, impatient air hostesses, an aspiring nun, some visionary children, and a sleazy business man to name but a few, Moran sends them all on their way, then lets events unfold in the capable hands Ennis and Foy.

Given the brevity and hurried transitions between scenes, “A Holy Show” can often feel like a comedy sketch show. One in which the talents of the comedians risk being more engaging than the characters they portray. Yet while we’re never less than dazzled by Ennis and Foy, its never at the expense of the characters, with Moy and Ennis delivering deeply enjoyable and impeccable performances. Indeed, some scenes are just so good, such as the newly married Irish couple coming to an understanding, or the Give Up Your Aul Sin’s styled recounting of the miracles of Fatima, Moy and Ennis might well have you cracking a rib with laughter.

If it’s packed a little too tightly in places, and takes a little while to get airborne, “A Holy Show” is a still fun, bumpy ride. One well worth getting on board with. Only in Ireland could you get a hijacking this ridiculous. Or this hilarious. Or this much fun.

“A Holy Show” written and directed by Janet Moran, presented by Mermaid Arts Centre, runs at The Peacock Stage of The Abbey Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 until September 15

For more information, visit The Abbey Theatre or Dublin Fringe Festival 2018

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