I was lucky enough to be one of the audience members for the opening night of Paul Howard’s latest play ‘Breaking Dad’. The Gaiety Theatre was filled with a buzz of expectation before the curtains went up and the stars of Irish film and theatre gathered to witness the funniest play that I have ever seen. It was laugh a minute stuff from the off and it really is a testament to the writing ability of Howard. This is the third play following, ‘The last days of the Celtic Tiger’ and ‘Between Foxrock and a hard place’. The story is set in the year 2022, Ireland is on the verge of another economic boom and Charles O’Carroll Kelly has somehow managed to orchestrate the greatest political comeback of all times with Bertie Ahern being on the brink of becoming Taoiseach again at the age of seventy one. Ross, now in his forties hasn’t changed a bit, his son Ronan is now a professional soccer player with Celtic, his daughter Honor is still a pain and his wife Sorcha is still trying to save the world. Don’t worry if you haven’t read any of the fourteen best selling novels or Howard’s column in the Times as this play is a very capable stand alone story. My wife attended the play with me and is somewhat of a Ross virgin, I know those two words don’t sit easy together, and there was no need for any background explanations. A combination of great writing and comic timing from the cast provide a tight production that had the audience laughing from start to finish. When it finished and I finally had a chance to take a much needed breath, the standing ovation that followed was much deserved.
It’s a given that Paul Howard is at the top of the pile when it comes to writing comedy but he has been blessed with a cast that just make this show what it is. Philip O’Sullivan plays the perfect Charles, the pin stripe suit, the large cigar, the delusional fathers respect that he shows to his son, ‘the greatest rugby player never to play for Ireland’. New comer Gavin Drea plays Traoloch, Honor’s love interest and basically a replica of Ross back in the day, and his clashes with Ross are hilarious. Caoimhe O’Malley is ‘totes amaze balls’ as Honor, she has some of the best lines in the play and is responsible for me putting the word ‘hashtag’ in my sentences now, her interaction with her parents is great, the spoilt teenager that is continually embarrassed by the mere existence of her mother and father. Laurence Kinlan who plays Ronan is a gem, although he has some great lines to deliver, it’s his delivery and timing that makes them so funny. Lisa Lambe is stunning as Ross’s glamorous, career driven wife Sorcha. She is a catalyst for much of the story and her performance was exemplary. When I heard back in 2007 that Paul Howard was going to bring Ross to life on the stage, I had my reservations. Who could possibly play the ‘Rossmeister’? There is no doubt that Rory Nolan was born to play the part and he owns the roll. When he’s not involved in dialogue on the stage, he manages to produce that look, that stare into space, that suggests there’s nothing but a hamster and a wheel in his head. If Homer Simpson was to come to life, Rory Nolan is your man. To all involved, from Paul to cast and crew, you should be very proud of this production. Congratulations.
If you hadn’t intended going seeing ‘Breaking Dad’, then change your plans. This is a must see production. The good news is that their original run has been extended to May 24th so get you tickets today and don’t have regrets at missing a side splitting night out. Directed by Jimmy Fay, set designed by Paul O’Mahony, costumes by Catherine Fay and lighting by Paul Keogh. Starring Rory Nolan as Ross, Lisa Lambe as Sorcha, Philip O’Sullivan as Charles, Caoimhe O’Malley as Honor and last but not least Gavin Drea as Traoloch.