The Last Corner Shop on Misery Hill is a darkly comic play which focusses on a small shop in the Docklands run by the O’Reilly brothers Mick (Owen O’Gorman) and Joe (Barry John Kinsella). The O’Reilly’s shop is not doing very well as they struggle to compete with their nemesis Dunnes. The excellent writing of Mack Mirahmadi is brought to stage with great comic flair by the cast in two hours of pure entertainment at the wonderful and atmospheric Smock Alley Theatre. This is a truly original play that you will want to see.
When the play begins, we are thrown into the morning routine of Mick and Joey as they get the Corner Shop ready for their ever dwindling customer base. Joe likes to listen to his tunes while Mick would prefer if he didn’t. Going so far as to drown Joe’s radio in a bucket of water. This is not the only loss suffered by Joe. He quickly discovers that in a drunken act of kindness he has given his favourite pair of football socks: blue replica Bocca Juniors football socks which were a present, given to him years earlier by Nora. Joe is very attached to the socks and tends to drive Mick mad talking about them. Without them his replica Bocca Juniors kit just doesn’t look the same. The fact that they are made to fit a twelve-year-old certainly doesn’t help. As Mick tries to point out but Joe is not interested.
The chemistry between O’Gorman and Kinsella is excellent
The chemistry between O’Gorman and Kinsella is excellent and they bounce off each other very well which adds greatly to the comic value. Mick and Joey have been the victims of some small but consistent petty crime recently. Their takings are regularly short and Mick suspects that they are being robbed. The main suspect is Johnno (Colm Lennon): a homeless man whose best friend is a pigeon called Alfred.
Johnno is a great comic creation and the rapport between him, and the other characters makes for some hilarious moments thanks to some great timing and delivery, not to mention some great writing.
The plot line of the socks is a little surreal but works very well. Joe’s devotion to these socks and the reasons behind his devotion to socks just symbolises a grown man clinging to his childhood dreams and his relationship with Nora who is now dead.
The set is relatively simple but authentic and adds much to the comedy. Johnno with his tracksuit, the mix and match of all sorts behind the counter and even the 1990 Ireland jersey worn by Joe. It all creates a great atmosphere and brings us back to a slightly timeless point in the not too distant past.
The portrayal of Johno by Colm Lennon is brilliant.
The portrayal of Johno by Colm Lennon is brilliant. It is always funny, though there is a dark side to the comedy. Johno needed the socks in the first place as his feet were soaking wet. He tells us about the highs of his childhood when he won numerous pageants which is only slightly undermined by his admission that his mother bribed the judges. We find out that he had a brief though it would seem passionate fling with Dina much to the dismay of Joey.
Dina (Eimear Keating) is another great character who is captured very well by Keating. It is difficult to know what to make of her. When we meet her she has a thing with Joey. However, we later find out that she is freakishly strong and not averse to battering Johno given half the chance.
It is not easy to write a comedy and even more difficult to make sure that the actors do not try to be funny: there is none of that in The Last Corner Shop on Misery Hill. The actors play the parts very straight and there is no attempt to overact. It is the chemistry between all of them and the great writing of Mack Mirahmadi which keeps the audience laughing from start to finish. It takes a lot of skill as a writer and as a cast to take some rather dark themes and make them not only funny but to get the audience behind you. This is certainly due in large part to the excellent direction by Mack Mirahmadi and Ciaran Gallagher.
It is the chemistry between all of them and the great writing of Mack Mirahmadi which keeps the audience laughing from start to finish.
It was clear that the cast had a lot of fun working on this play and rehearsing over the last couple of months. It is worth adding that the show was produced by Joe Murphy with some great set design (see below) by Aine O’Hara who helped to create a very authentic space for a very good show.
I would highly recommend getting along to see it before all the tickets are gone. The performance I attended was sold out and I am sure that once word gets around all the remaining nights will be sold out too.
Mick: Owen O’Gorman
Joey: Barry John Kinsella
Johnno: Colm Lennon
Mary: Denise O’Connor
Dina: Eimear Keating
Director: Mack Mirahmadi/ Ciaran Gallagher
Set Design: Aine O’Hara
Producer: Joe murphy
Writer: Mack Mirahmadi