Loretta and Frances are a pair of care-workers looking after Davy McGee in 17 Miller’s Row in Belfast. Their elderly and infirm 84-year-old charge goes to the bathroom and doesn’t return because he has died.
aced with the opportunity to pocket the old man’s pension, which would mean sixty quid each, the women are tempted. The situation builds as does the comedy; bit by bit their misdemeanour escalates into a major crime.
Marie Jones is the comic laureate of the little people. Whilst aware that her first duty as a humorist is to hit the gags, the laughs bring in their wake a stubborn undertow of social comment.
Loretta’s husband has lost his job as a bricklayer, which he loved. He has physically shrunk in front of her eyes, becoming addicted to TV game shows. “He didn’t cause no recession.”
The morality isn’t laid on with a trowel, but only the snooziest of audience members would fail to notice the way these workers on £6.70 agonise about a minor victimless misdemeanour, in contrast with bankers and developers who have lined their pockets without any visible hint of a functioning conscience. “I dream about money,” says Loretta.
Directed by Jones herself, Tara Lynne O’Neill as sweet-natured Loretta and Katie Tumelty as the brassier Frances deliver the play with impeccable comic timing and bucketloads of charm.
John Leslie’s set, a small Belfast flat, is cleverly shaped for the action with cut-away walls. The old man’s love for Frank Sinatra provides the music.
In a brilliant turn of physical comedy, which got a big hand on opening night, Tumelty reruns poor Davy McGee getting to the bathroom, a stroke having deprived him of the use of one arm and one leg.
We are “two care workers, two nobodies,” says Frances. Marie Jones’ gift is that she elevates the nobodies that the newspapers overlook.