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The First Irish Coffee at the Laughter Lounge: Drink’s origin story served with verve

Until Saturday, November 26

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Aidan Moriarty and Luke Griffin in The First Irish Coffee at the Laughter Lounge in Dublin. Photo by Marc O'Sullivan

Aidan Moriarty and Luke Griffin in The First Irish Coffee at the Laughter Lounge in Dublin. Photo by Marc O'Sullivan

Aidan Moriarty and Luke Griffin in The First Irish Coffee at the Laughter Lounge in Dublin. Photo by Marc O'Sullivan

The Laughter Lounge, the comedy venue on Eden Quay, is flexing its menu to explore an audience for comic plays — and they might be on to something. Lee Coffey’s new script is written with this type of crowd in mind: comedy-literate folks keen to listen and there for laughs.

The play opens with some humorous Dublin bantz: two guys slagging each other, each claiming to know the true origin story of the Irish coffee. Then they each present their case. Luke Griffin’s version has the drink originating in the Dolphin Hotel in Dublin, invented by proprietor Michael Nugent. Aidan Moriarty’s story claims Joe Sheridan, a chef working at Foynes Airport in Co Limerick, invented the drink to perk up travelling Americans whose flight had been turned back because of a storm. As each actor leads their version, the other plays all the bit parts; we get cameos of Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill and various local characters.

The storm on the plane is particularly funny. At the end, the audience get to vote which version they believe to be true. Afterwards, a barman attempts to break the world record for making Irish coffees in under three minutes. It stands at 39. The audience were well up for this, cheering and clapping.

Director Tracy Ryan keeps the tempo fast and the energy high with hats, scarves and moustaches helping to create multitudes; the actors serve this style with great verve and skill. Peter O’Mahony’s set is made from revolving flats and much fun is had with entrances and exits. Nifty hinged flaps get us from the Dublin hotel to the Limerick airport elegantly. It’s a pity the script isn’t just a little better. The shape is good, the story great, but it needs a few more hot lines. It relies a bit too much on clichés, like “men being men and sheep being nervous”. It needs another spin in the writers’ room.

An Irish coffee is served with the ticket and customised chocolate bars are laid on the tables. The audience were mostly under 35 and all out for a good time. Comedy and theatre are twin artforms, and this zippy style feels perfectly at home in this venue.

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