Writer: Janet Moran
Director: Janet Moran
Reviewer: Ciarán Leinster
One can’t help but feel that A Holy Show was an excellent opportunity squandered by its creators. Janet Moran sought to tell the tale of the 1981 plane hijacking by a former Trappist monk intent on knowing the Third Secret of Fatima. This was a glorious chance to bring a bizarre situation to a new generation of people, and, in the same year as the referendum on the 8thAmendment and the Pope’s visit, explore changes in Irish culture, sexuality, and religion in that time. Unfortunately, the piece played it safe, relying on old clichés, swear words, and a cynical tone. By the time the play decided it wanted to be taken seriously, which meant the moods began to swap drastically, this reviewer had checked out.
Catriona Ennis and Patrick Moy are the sole performers, and while their characters are generally irritating, they pull off a large number of different roles well. Very physically expressive, they inhabit each person, whether its passengers or air hostesses, with distinct traits and voices. The problem, though, is with the characters themselves. The air hostesses are shrewish biddies, there is an unhappily married and sexually inexperienced couple, a wealthy loudmouth property developer, and nagging mother of a teenage daughter; all of these spring from instantly recognisable tropes, and so the suspicion remains that there is little original to say. We are treated to the usual jokes about the past being different to modern times, such as the air hostess not knowing what herbal tea is, at which point it became evident that cheap laughs are the order of the day.
The highlights were the archival footage from the event itself, with the appearance of Minister for Foreign Affairs Albert Reynolds on screen drawing great laughter as he tripped over his answers. Another piece showed a woman describing the hijacker, a scene that the actors had just played with impressive fidelity to the real thing. On the other hand, scenes of the Virgin Mary appearing to Portugese children, prompting the famed Third Secret, seem to treat the topic with neither reverence nor satire. At this point, the play truly reveals itself as not having enough to say, and seeking the easiest possible laugh.
Runs until 15 September 2018 | Image: Contributed