This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub.
Based on the now infamous events of summer 2014, when five Garth Brooks concerts were cancelled at Croke Park, Are you there, Garth? It’s me, Margaret is a new comedy play by Fiona Looney. The central character of Margaret (Deirdre O’Kane) converses regularly with Garth Brooks as she stands in her Kinnegad kitchen. Life has become increasing mediocre for Margaret and she vents her frustrations to Garth who provides an ever listening ear. From her lukewarm relationship with her husband Declan to her struggles with her children, in particular Ben who has autism, Garth hears it all. When his concerts are announced for the summer of 2014 Margaret finally feels like she can see a beacon of hope shining in the distance of her hum-drum life. Then the fiasco of planning permission and the city council come along to shake things up.
Running parallel to Margaret’s story are the slightly fictionalised events of planning problems, greed, and egos that dogged the concerts from day one. A litany of characters, played by Maclean Burke, Stephen Jones and Jonathan White, enact various different scenes from GAA official meetings to secret service agents to aggrieved locals. Not to mention Brooks himself (played by Burke). The set of kitchen-cum-Croker works well at facilitating the back and forth between Margaret’s kitchen and the other various locations. However this jumping between locations happens too frequently and includes many unnecessary scenes. There are quite a few laughs throughout but overall there is a feeling of awkwardness to this 90 minute piece.
A one woman show focussing solely on Margaret is, like the Brooks concerts, the event that should have happened had a bit more planning gone into it. Unfortunately it is the real life elements in the story that let it down. Looney’s script works when it deals with the true heart of the story, Margaret, but this doesn’t follow through the entire play. Even with some good gags the caricatures of politicians, GAA officials, and council members gets old fast. While the supporting cast play the roles as they should, O’Kane is rightly the star of the show and gives an excellent performance.
Writer: Fiona Looney
Director: Padraic McIntyre
Runs until October 25th 2015
Image contributed by the Gaiety Theatre