Copper Face Jacks: the Musical – Olympia Theatre – Review

Copper Face Jacks: the Musical – Olympia Theatre – Review by Frank L.

Until August 12th 2018

Noeleen Nic Gearailt (Roseanna Purcell) lives with her old crone of a mother in a small cottage in the vicinity of Cahirciveen. The only chance of a man is the next door neighbour Mossy Munnix (Stephen O’Leary) who is not exactly a catch unless you define owning a bit of a wind farm and some EU grants as a catch. She thinks she loves him but she is leaving for Dublin and the job of her dreams as a claims officer in the VHI. Gino Wildes (Johnny Ward) is the captain of the Dublin Football team, he is flash, fast-talking and cock sure of himself. He has a visceral dislike of culchies. In Dublin, Noeleen is unable to sleep because of the noise of the music seeping out of Copper Face Jacks. She takes her courage in her hands and goes in to ask for the music to be turned down. She has entered a new world of guards, nurses and Dublin’s motley crew out on the town to have a good time. It is where town and country truly mix. It is where Gino against his better Dublin jackeen instincts falls hopelessly in love with agricultural Noeleen. Paul Howard’s script plays lovingly and funnily with these stereotypes as the unlikely love affair develops.

There are ten songs with titles which include “VHI”, “I’m Gay, I’m GAA” and “Only lookin for the Ride” which gives a fair idea where the thrust of the various stories that emerge in Copper Face Jacks lie. Paul Howard’s script and lyrics keep the whole fun loving show on the road with a series of Dublin and culchie wisecracks. He has a genius to be able to send up a character as he or she delivers his or her prejudices, particularly in the case of Noeleen with her J.M. Synge metaphors and similes, and Gino with his inherited Dublin ability to unwittingly mispronounce a word. The music by Paul Woodfull hits all the right notes.

Five of the cast (Eoin Cannon, Shane Fallon, Mark Fitzgerald, Rachel O’Connell and Kelly-Marie ni Cheallaigh) have to play more than one part and their transformations take place effortlessly. All of the cast (which also includes Cormac McCloone and Michele McGrath) have to shake their hips and otherwise move their limbs in Copper Face Jacks so as to ensure that “Only lookin for the ride” becomes a reality. It is fast moving, well drilled and fun.

The casting of Johnny Ward as Gino was inspired and Roseanna Purcell as Noeleen was a perfect foil. The audience loved their romance and you left the theatre with a good feeling and a big smile – like a good night out in Copper Face Jacks.


Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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