Are you there Garth? It’s Me, Margaret – Gaiety Theatre – Review


Are you there Garth? It’s Me, Margaret

Gaiety Theatre, South King Street, Dublin 2.

Runs until October 25th.

Tues- Sunday Evenings: 7:30pm. Saturday & Sunday matinee: 2:30pm

If you aren’t aware of the debacle that surrounded the cancellation of five concerts by country rock superstar Garth Brooks in the summer of 2014 then you were clearly living under a rock. When Dublin City Council refused to grant a licence for all five concerts the country literally went apoplectic with rage. So incensed were certain fans that they even contacted President Obama to enquire if he would have a word with DCC to convince them to reconsider.  All in all it was a bit of a fiasco but in the midst of this chaos there were 400,000 disappointed fans who had purchased tickets. The Margaret of the title was one such fan.

Played brilliantly by Deirdre O’Kane, Margaret’s been through the mill and isn’t living the life she envisaged for herself. She has an autistic son, her husband’s lost his job and money worries and day to day life is getting her down. To ease her drudgery she shares her problems with Garth Brooks who has been there for her through thick and thin.

Obviously not the real Garth Brooks. Rather she talks to thin air in the belief that she is talking to him. Naturally when the concerts are announced she takes this as a sign and is thrilled when her husband secures two tickets for the first night. But as the saga rages on she becomes more and more despondent as the little bit of hope she had of forgetting her problems for one night ebbs further from her grasp.

This is really her story. Her day to day struggles and how she copes with them make up the bulk of this tale. Brooks is simply a catalyst to tell her story as the debacle rages on in the background with Maclean Burke taking on the role of the iconic star as well as several other roles. He is joined by Jonathan White and Stephen Jones and between them they play the main protagonists in the story. Everyone from Enda Kenny to promoter Peter Aiken is represented and it is doubtful many of them will be happy with the portrayals. They are shown as over the top and almost caricature like figures. This works well for comic effect but may grate at those still gutted by the concert cancellation.

Surprisingly this show doesn’t bombard you with Garth’s music and only one song features. Be warned though – it will be stuck in your head for eons afterwards. Maclean pulls the number off surprisingly well and resists the temptation to parody Garth’s performance style instead playing it straight and with a degree of pathos.

This has a lot of heart but essentially it is just one long monologue from Margaret with snapshots of the Garth debacle scattered throughout. You find that you care more about her story than the concert chaos and at times the interludes are annoying as you want to know more about what’s going on with her. Despite this it’s good fun and well-paced with lots of cheeky humour. Running right through without an interval it doesn’t outstay its welcome and fans of Brooks should be happy enough with it. Due to the nature and topicality of the show I’m not sure it will have much of a life beyond this run so if you want to catch it I’d advise seeing it now!

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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